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Full text of "On the spiritual in art : First complete English translation, with four full colour page reproductions, woodcuts and half tones"

ON THE SPIRITUAL IN ART 
BY WASSILY KANDINSKY 




( 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2011 witii funding from 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives 



http://www.archive.org/details/onspiritualinartOOkand 



KANDINSKY 




DAS GEISTIGE 
IN DER KUNST 



X 



DRITTB AUFLAQE 



COVER REPRODUCTION OF ORIGINAL EDITION 




WASSILY KANDINSKY 



1866- 1944 



WASSILY KANDINSKY 
ON THE SPIRITUAL IN ART 

FIRST COMPLETE ENGLISH TRANSLATION 
WITH FOUR FULL COLOUR PAGE REPRO- 
DUCTIONS, WOODCUTS AND HALF TONES 



PUBLISHED BY THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM 
FOUNDATION. FOR THE MUSEUM OF NON-OBJECTIVE 
PAINTING. NEW YORK CITY. 1946. HILLA REBAY. EDITOR 



DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ELIZABETH TICHEJEFF 



COPYRIGHTED BY THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION. 1946 
SECOND PRINTING 



CONTENTS Page 

Foreword to First Original Edition 6 

Foreword to Second Original Edition 7 
Foreword to the 1946 New York Edition of Wassily Kandinslcy's "On 

the Spiritual in Art" 8 

A— GENERAL 

I Introduction 9 

II The Movement 15 

III The Spiritual Turning-point 21 

IV The Pyramid 34 

B— PAINTING 

V The Effect of Colour 39 

VI The Language of Form and Colour 44 

VII Theory 79 

VIII Art and Artists 91 

CONCLUSION 94 

Survey of Forty Years of Kandinslcy's Artistic Evolution 1 05 

Public Comments 127 

List of Full Page Illustrations 153 



FOREWORD TO THE FIRST ORIGINAL EDITION 
By Piper and Company Munich, 1911 



The thoughts, which I am developing here are the result of observations 
and spiritual experiences, which have been assembled gradually during 
the last five, six years. My intention was, to write extensively on this sub- 
ject, for which many experiments, in the realm of feeling, would have 
been necessary. For the time being, due to other important work, I have 
had to abandon my initial plan. Perhaps I shall never be able to realize 
it, for someone else will do it better and more exhaustively, which is neces- 
sary, while I am forced to content myself with a mere outline. My only 
purpose is to draw attention to this great problem, and I shall consider 
myself fortunate if this appeal should not be lost in the void. 



FOREWORD TO THE SECOND ORIGINAL EDITION 



This little book was written in the year 1910. Previous to the publication 
of its first edition (January 1912), I added those further experiences 
which had come my way in the meantime. Six months have passed since 
then and my vision has grown ever freer, my horizons have widened. Yet 
after serious thought, I have refrained from further enlargement on what 
I had previously written because by doing so, only an incomplete growth 
of certain parts would have been achieved. I have decided, instead, to 
collect the new material, compiling sharp observations and experiences 
so, that these component parts would form basic elements, as a kind of 
"counterpoint of painting," which may some day, form the natural com- 
plement to this book. Thus, the second edition, which had to follow 
"Quickly after the first, has remained almost completely untouched. 
My article "On the Question of Form," first published in the "Blaue 
Relter" (Blue Rider), is one part of the further development. 

Munich, April 1912. Kandinsky 



FOREWORD TO THE 1946 NEW YORK EDITION 



The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is publishing the first complete 
English edition of "On the Spiritual in Art" by Kandinslcy. It was trans- 
lated and checked by American, English, Russian and German scholars, 
who have collaborated to achieve the best possible way of doing justice 
to the original, and of preserving and conveying, in the most reverent 
manner, the ideas and style of Kandinslcy.* A French edition is also 
being published in Paris, indicating the growing interest and demand 
for Kandinslcy 's art and his epochal advent. To enrich this book further, 
it was decided to enclose a short survey of Kandinsky's artistic work 
since 1904 to 1944, when he died in France, to give an idea of his 
evolution. There is also included a survey of comments made by the 
public in the Museum of Non-objective Painting in 1945, which prove# 
that the vision of Kandinsky has come true and that his art has found 
many enthusiastic followers and co-workers. 



* Finally the editor retranslated the entire book to clarify the correct artistic meaning. 
8 




I 



INTRODUCTION 



fEvery work of art Is a child of its time, while often it is the parent of our 
emotions. 

Thus, every cultural period creates art of its own, which can never be re- 
peated again. An effort to revive art-principles of the past, at best, can 
only result in works of art resembling a still-born child. For example, it 
is impossible for us to relive or feel the inner spirit of the ancient Greeks. 
The sculptor's attempts to employ Greek principles can only achieve a 
similarity in form, while the work itself remains for all time without a soul. 
Such imitation resembles the antics of apes. Externally, the animal's 
movements are almost like those of human beings. The monkey sits and 
holds a book an inch from its nose, turns the pages, makes thoughtful 
faces, but there is no sense or meaning in any of these actions. 



INTRODUCTION 



However, another exterior similarity in artistic form-principles springs 
from a great need. The similarity of inner tendencies in the entire moral 
and spiritual ^(tmosphere, the groping after objectives already followed 
through, and subsequently forgotten, invokes the similarity of inner feel- 
ing for an entire period; and leads logically to the application of such 
forms which, in a former period, had successfully served identical efforts. 
Thus, our sympathy, our understanding, our inner affinity to the Primitives 
came partly Into existence. 

Like ourselves, these pure artists sought to express Inner truths in their 
work and, in consequence, automatically repudiated all consideration of 
external accidents. 

This glimmer of spiritual closeness is, in spite of its great importance, 
no more than a spark. Our soul, after the long period of materialism, at 
last begins to awaken from despair born of unbelief, lack of purpose 
and ideals. This nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the 
universe into an evil, useless game, has not yet past. The awakening soul, 
while trying to free itself, is still under its domination. Only a feeble light 
flickers, like a tiny star, in the vast encircling darkness. As a presentiment, 
the soul does not as yet courageously admit its fear, that the light might 
be a dream and the encircling darkness, reality. This doubt and still-linger- 
ing oppression, through the materialistic philosophy, divides our soul from 
that of the Primitives. Like a precious vase dug up, though cracked, 
from the depths of the earth, our broken soul does not ring true. Thus, 
any return to the Primitives, now experienced in the temporary assimila- 
tion of form, can only be short-lived. The similarity between art forms 
of the past and present can easily be seen, though diametrically opposed 
to each other. The first is purely external and, therefore, without a future. 
The second is spiritual, therefore, containing the seed of infinity. After 
the period of materialistic temptation, to which the human soul ap- 
parently succumbed and from whose evil attraction it finally has freed 
itself, the soul emerges purified by trial and suffering. The elementary, 
baser emotions such as fear, pleasure, sorrow, serving the contents of 

10 



INTRODUCTION 



art during this period of temptation, will hardly attract the artist. He 
will endeavor to awaken more subtle, undefined emotions, as he himself 
lives a comparatively complicated, subtle life. His creative work will 
surely arouse in observers, who are capable of deeper response, emotions 
which cannot be defined in words. 

The observer of today, however, Is seldom attuned to those subtler vibra- 
tions. In the realm of art, he seeks a mere Imitation of nature by serving 
a practical purpose (a life-like portrait of depiction In the ordinary sense); 
an imitation following certain conventions (Impressionist painting); and, 
finally, those expressions of an Inner feeling called "Stimmung" by the 
Germans and best translated as sentiment'*') concealing its true essence 
in nature-forms. 

All these forms, when truly artistic, fulfill their purpose and (as in the 
former instance) become food for the spirit. It is particularly so In the 
third instance, where the observer becomes conscious of a responsive 
vibration within his soul. Of course, such harmony (or contrast) cannot be 
either worthless or superficial. Indeed, the "Stimmung" or sentiment of 
a painting can intensify the observer's sentimental mood and purify it. 
In any event, such works of art safeguard the soul from coarsening its 
frequency, and keep it at a certain height, much as a tuning fork pitches 
the strings of a musical instrument. Yet, the refined measure of time and 
space in sound will remain one-sided and does not at all exhaust the ut- 
most possible effectiveness of art. 

Visualize a large, a very large, a smaller or medium size building divided 
into various rooms. All the walls of the rooms covered with small, large 
and medium sized canvases. Through the medium of colour, items of 
"nature" are represented: animals — drinking water or lying in the grass 

*) It is to be regretted that this word sentiment, which is meant to describe the poetical 
efforts of an artist's living soul, has been misused and finally ridiculed. Was there 
ever a great word that the masses did not try immediately to cheapen and desecrate? 

II 



INTRODUCTION 



in light or shade; next to them a crucifixion, painted by an artist who dis- 
believes in Christ; flowers; or human figures sitting, standing, walking, 
frequently naked, many naked women (often fore-shortened from behind); 
apples on silver dishes, the portrait of Councilor N; a sunset; a lady 
in Pink; flying ducks; the portrait of Baroness X; flying geese; Lady In 
White; calves, dotted by the bright yellow sunlight; the portrait of His 
Excellency Y; another lady in Green. 

Carefully listed in a book are the names of artists, the titles of their pic- 
tures. People carry these books in their hands as they go from one canvas 
to another and turn over the pages and read the names. Then, they go 
away neither richer nor poorer in spirit than when they entered; and are 
at once, again engulfed by their personal interests, which have nothing 
whatsoever to do with art. Why did they come? Each painting 
mysteriously contains an entire life, a life of many sufferings, hours of 
doubts, of enthusiasm and of delighted inspiration. Whither does this 
life go? Whereto directs the artist's soul its active creatlveness? What 
is its message? "To send light into the depth of human hearts Is the 
artist's vocation," said Schumann. "An artist is a man who can draw and 
paint anything," said Tolstoi. Of these two definitions of artist's activity 
we must choose the second, if we think of the exhibition just described. 
With more or less skill, virtuosity and vigor, objects are re-created on 
a canvas, painted either roughly or smoothly. To harmonize the whole 
onto the canvas is the road which leads to art. With cold eyes and in- 
different spirit the spectator regards this work. The connoisseurs ad- 
mire "skill" (just as one would admire the prowess of a tight-rope dancer), 
and enjoy the "painting" (as one would enjoy a pastry). Hungry souls 
leave as hungry as they came. 

The masses stroll through the rooms and state their opinion; some can- 
vases are "nice," others, "splendid." The man who could have said some- 
thing to the other man, did not say it, and he who could have heard, 
heard nought. This condition in art is called, "L'art pour I'art." 

12 



INTRODUCTION 



This destruction of the inner sound {the very life of colour) is the scatter- 
ing of the artist's strength into emptiness, as is such "art for art." The 
artist seeks material reward for his skill, his power of invention, or vision. 
His purpose becomes the satisfaction of vanity and greed. Instead of 
intensified, co-operative work amongst artists, they scramble for pos- 
sessions. There are complaints about too much competition and over- 
production. Hates, partisanship, cliques, jealousy, intrigues are the result 
of this aimless, materialistic art.*) 

"Understanding" is the approach of the observer to the artist's 
viewpoint. Yet, quietly the observer turns away from artists, who cannot 
see their life's purpose in such an art which is not needed, but who aspire 
to a higher goal. To understand is to elevate the onlooker to the artist's 
level. 

Art, as the child of Its age, can only repeat artistically what is already 
expressed in the contemporary trend. This art which bears no potentiality 
for the future and which, therefore, Is only the child of its time, cannot 
grow to be a mother of the future. It is, therefore, a barren art; it Is of 
short duration and does not survive the passing of the period nor the 
atmosphere which made it possible. 

Such art, capable of further evolution, sprang from its spiritual period, 
while, at the same time, it is not merely its echo or mirror, but contains 
a wakening to prophetic power, which can have a deep and far-reaching 
influence. 

Spiritual life, to which art belongs and of which it is one of Its mightiest 

*) A few singular exceptions do not change this sad and ominous picture, and even 
these exceptions are to be found mainly amongst artists, whose doctrine is merely, "art 
for art's sake." Even though they serve a higher ideal it is ultimately a useless waste 
of their powers. External beauty is an element of spiritual atmosphere. Beyond this 
positive fact, (beautiful equals good) there lies the weakness of a talent not used to its 
fullest extent. (The word, "Talent" is here used in its gospel-sense). 

13 



INTRODUCTION 



agents, is a complicated but definite and simplified uplifting movement. 
This movement is one of perception. It can take various forms, but basic- 
ally it retains the same inner sense and purpose. 

Veiled in obscurity are the causes moving us forward and upward by 
"the sweat of the brow," through suffering, evil, and pain. 



14 




II 



THE MOVEMENT 



Many grievous obstacles along this road must be conquered, so as to 
arrive at the first stage; and even then an evil, unseeing hand may toss 
more obstacles in the way, so that this road sometimes appears to be 
totally impassable, as all landmarks vanish. 

It is then that there unfailingly arises some human being, no different 
from the rest of humanity but for a secret power of "Vision" within him. 

15 



THE MOVEMENT 



He sees and points the way. Sometimes he would prefer to lay aside 
his power, as it is a heavy cross to bear; but he cannot do so. Though 
scorned and hated, he never lets go but drags the cartload of protesting 
humanity after him, ever forcing it forward and upward, over all obstacles 
in his way. 

Yet frequently, long after his disappearance from this earth, when no 
vestiges of his bodily "I" remain, many seek to retain the form of his 
futile body in various ways, often in gigantic scales in marble, iron, bronze, 
or stone, as if there had been any intrinsic value in the embodiment of 
these divine servants of humanity and martyrs, who so decidedly despised 
the material, and only served spiritual aims. At any rate, this last resort- 
ing to the marble effigy shows that many, by now, have reached that 
high pinnacle, where he, whom they at last strive to honor, once stood 
so utterly alone. 

A large acute triangle divided into unequal segments, the narrowest 
one pointing upwards, is a schematically correct representation of 
spiritual life. The lower the segment the larger, wider, higher, and more 
embracing will be the other parts of the triangle. 

The entire triangle moves slowly, almost invisible, forward and upward 
and where the apex was "today," the second segment is going to be "to- 
morrow,"*) that is to say, that which today can be understood only by 
the apex, and which to the rest of the triangle seems an incomprehensible 
gibberish, tomorrow forms the true and sensitive life of the second seg- 
ment. 

• 
At the apex of the top segment, sometimes one man stands entirely alone. 

His joyous vision corresponds to a vast Inner sorrow, and even those, who 
are closest to him, do not comprehend him. Angrily, they may call him 

*) This "today" and "tomorrow" is in its inner sense comparable to the biblical "day" 
of creation. 

16 



THE MOVEMENT 



a knave or a fool. So it was with Beethoven, who at his very highest peak 
also stood alone *]. 

How many years had to pass until a greater segment of the triangle 
reached the spot where once he stood? Despite statues erected to him 
now, are there really men who have risen to this level**)? Artists are to 
be found in every segment of this imaginary triangle. Each one of these 
artists, who can see beyond the limits of his present stage, in this segment 
of spiritual evolution is a prophet to those surrounding him and helps to 
move forward the ever obstinate carload of humanity. However, one of 
those not possessed by such vision, or misusing it for base purposes and 
reasons, when he closes the triangle may be easily understood by his fel- 
low men and even acclaimed. The larger the segment (that is, the lower it 
lies in the triangle), the greater is the number of people to comprehend 
the words of the artist. In spite of it and correspondingly every group 
consciously or unconsciously hungers for spiritual food. 

This food is offered by its artists to the next following segment which 
will be stretching out its hand tomorrow. 

This schematical presentation, however, does not express the spiritual 
life. Among other things, it does not show the shadowside, a large deadly 
black spot. However, it happens too often that a low level of 
spiritual nourishment satisfied some, who are already in a higher segment. 
Even food becomes poisonous, and in smaller quantities affects their soul 

*) Are not some memorials and statues a sorry answer to this question? 

**) Weber, the composer of "Der Freischueti" said of Beethoven's Seventh 
Symphony, "Now the extravagances of this genius have reached the limit, Beethoven 
is completely ripe for the mad-house." Of the fascinating phrase at the beginning 
of the first bar on a reiterated E Abbe Stadler said to his neighbor on hearing 
it for the first time, "Always that E he just can't think of anything else, the talent- 
less fellow!" (Beethoven by August Goellerich, see page I, series 'Die Musilc' pub- 
lished by R. Strauss). 

17 



THE MOVEMENT 



in its higher segment, gradually lowering it to a lower section; while talcen 
in larger quantities this poison casts the falling soul into ever lower 
spheres. In one of his novels Siemkiewicz compares spiritual life with 
swimming; whoever fails to work untiringly and does not continuously 
fight against sinking, will surely go under. Here, a man's gift, "The Tal- 
ents," (again used in the sense of the Gospel can become a curse, not 
only to him, but to all those, who partake of this poisonous intake. Such an 
artist uses his strength to feed his lower needs; ostensibly garbing it in 
artistic forms, he presents the impure; attracting weak elements to him- 
self, he constantly mixes them with evil; he induces others to betray them- 
selves while convincing all, to quench their thirst from the pure spring 
of spirituality. This impedes the movement, drags back those, who strive 
onward and contaminates all around t4iem. 

Of course, there are periods, when art lacks a high champion altogether, 
when there is no spiritual nourishment. These are times of retrogression 
in the spiritual world. Ceaselessly, souls fall from the higher to the lower 
segments, and the entire triangle appears to be motionless. It even seems 
to move down and backwards. During these dumb, blind periods, men 
lay special and exclusive stress on outward success. They are only inter- 
ested in material possessions and welcome any technical advancement, 
which only helps man's body, proclaiming this servitude as an achievement 
of major magnitude, while spiritual forces are neglected, if not com- 
pletely ignored. 

The solitary seekers, the hungry of soul, the visionaries are derided or 
dubbed as spiritually abnormal. Those rare souls, however, who refuse 
to be lulled into lethargy and forever yearn, however vaguely, for spiritual 
life, advancement, and knowledge, sound disconsolate and lamentful 
amidst the coarse materialistic chorus of spiritual darkness. Agony sur- 
rounds these terrified souls and their followers. Sorely tormented by 
doubt and fear and losing strength, they often prefer creeping oblitera- 
tion to this sudden leap Into darkness. 

At such a period, when Art is basely degraded and only used for ma- 
18 



THE MOVEMENT 



terialisfic purposes, it seeks its inspiration in nnaterial harshness, as it can- 
not imagine any finer aims. Obiective reproduction, unalteringly boring, 
remains its perpetual goal. The "what" in art disappears 'eo ipso.' Only 
the "how," the manner of reproduction by the artist persists as a question 
of creed. The soul in art is lost. 

Art goes still further in its pursuit of the objective "how." It begins to 
specialize, thus becoming comprehensible only to the artists, who com- 
plain of the public's indifference to their works. An artist, in such 
times, is not even expected to have a message but can attract atten- 
tion through some particular "originality" or "eccentricity." Conse- 
quently, being praised by a group of patrons and connoisseurs (usually 
resulting in material benefits), a large number of gifted and skilled people 
plunge into an art, which appears so easy to master. In each "artistic 
center," there are thousands of such artists, the majority of them merely 
looking for some new method, to produce millions of works utterly de- 
void of enthusiastic warmth of heart or the slightest stirring of the soul. 

"Competition" grows. The wild battle for success renders the search in- 
creasingly superficial. Small groups of artists who, by chance, fought a 
way out of this artistic and spiritual chaos entrench themselves in small 
achievement. The public, which has been left behind, looks on in bewilder- 
ment, loses interest for such art, and quietly turns away from it. 

Despite all this delusion, chaos, and wild hunt, the spiritual triangle con- 
tinues, slowly but surely and with irrestible forces, to move ever for- 
ward and upward. 

The invisible Moses descends from the mountain and sees the dance 
around the golden calf. Nevertheless, he brings to mankind wisdom's 
solace. 

First realized by the artist, his language is inaudible to the masses. Sub- 
consciously, the artist follows the call. That very question "how" con- 
tains a hidden seed of recovery. For even though this "how" remains 
essentially barren, a possibility still dv/ells in this "originality," this tend- 

19 



THE MOVEMENT 



ency (which some call "personality") of not only seeing the purely ma- 
terial side of an object, but also that which is condensed as differentiated 
from the objective of the realistic period, which meant to reproduce 
anything "just as it is," and "without employing any creative imagina- 
tion" *). If this "how" also engages the artist's emotional power and is 
capable of giving free scope to his finer feeling, it already pushes art 
to the crest of the road, where it will later unfailingly find its lost "what." 

That "what" constitutes the spiritual food for the now beginning spiritual 
awakening. This no longer will be the material, objective "what" of for- 
mer epochs but an artistic substance — the soul of art — without 
which its body (the "how") can never lead a completely sound existence, 
as is the case with individuals and entire peoples. 

This "what" is the eternal truth embraced by art, 
and which only art can express by means essen- 
tially its own. 



*) Frequently, use is made here of the terms "material" and "immaterial" and the 
interim phases which are terms "more or less." Is everything material? Is 
everything spiritual? Can the distinction, which we make between matter and 
spirit, be nothing but graduations of one or the other? Thought, which science terms 
the product of "spirit" is matter, a fine but not a coarse substance. Is whatever 
cannot be touched with the hand spiritual? It is not possible to discuss the subject 
further in this little book; it suffices if the boundaries drawn are not too definite. 



20 




Ill 

THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



The spiritual triangle moves slowly onward and upwards. While presently 
one of the largest of the lower segments reaches the point of using the 
first slogan of this materialistic creed, the dwellers of its segment bear 
various religious titles. They are called Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc. 
In reality, they are atheists, which the boldest and narrowest amongst 
them, quite openly admit. "Heaven" has become uninhabited. "Sod is 
dead." In politics, these people are Democrats or Republicans. The fear, 
horror, and hate, which yesterday they felt for certain political creeds, 
is now directed against anarchy, of which they know only its much- 
dreaded name. In economics, these people are socialists. They sharpen 
the sword of justice, with which to deal the death blow to the hydra of 
capitalism, and to hew off the head of evil. 

Since the inhabitants of this large segment of the triangle have never 
solved any problem independently, but have always been dragged in 
the cart of humanity by self-sacrificing fellowmen, who stand high above 
them, they know nought of this progress which they always have ob- 
served from afar. They, therefore, believe that this progress is very easy 
and put their trust in infallible prescriptions and never-failing methods. 

21 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



Those in the segment next below are dragged blindly higher by those 
just described, while they cling to their old position and resistance in 
fear of betrayal to the unknown. 

In a religious sense, the higher social segments contain those, who are 
not only blind atheists but who justify their godlessness with strange words 
and sayings; as, for example, those of Virchow, so unworthy of a learned 
man: "I have dissected many corpses but never yet discovered a soul 
in any." In politics, they know different parliamentary procedures, and 
read the political editorials. In economics, they are socialists of various 
grades and shadings and are capable of supporting their "convictions" 
by numerous quotations, (starting with Schweitzer's "Emma" via Lasalle's 
"Iron law on wages," to Marx's "Capital" and so on, down the line). 

In those loftier segments gradually appear men of "science and art" 
(absent in those just described]. Literatteurs and musicians, also, belong 
to this category, while men of science are positivists recognizing only 
those things, which can be weighed and measured. Anything else they 
view in the same way — sometimes as discreditable nonsense, a title 
which only yesterday they attributed to those theories, which today have 
become proven facts. 

In art, they are naturalists, believing firmly within those limits well estab- 
lished by others, and which they unconditionally accept, thereby believing 
in the personality, individuality, and temperament of artists they can 
esteem. 

Despite the apparent well-ordered security, despite the infallible prin- 
ciples, there lurks In these higher segments a hidden fear, a confusion, 
a trembling and an uncertainty like that, which creeps into the souls of 
passengers on an ocean liner on the high seas, as the shoreline vanishes 
in the fog and the mournful wind whips the waves Into towering moun- 
tains. This fear results from their race belief. They realize, that scientists; 
statesmen, and artists are admired today, who only yesterday were de- 

22 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



rided as Imposters, swindlers, or unworthy charlatans. The higher the 
segment in this visionary triangle, the clearer divided are these sharp 
angles of tear and sense of insecurity. In the highest segments, here and 
there are found eyes which can see for themselves, brains which are 
capable of deduction. Such gifted people ask themselves: Since this truth 
is overthrown by yesterday's truth and that again is swept away by that 
of our present day, isn't it equally possible that today's belief will be 
out-dated tomorrow? The bravest of them will answer: "It is within the 
realm of possibility." Secondly, there are eyes which can visualize what 
science of today "has not yet explained." Those ask themselves: "Will 
science, proceeding along the road it has followed for so long, ever at- 
tain a solution to these puzzles, and, if it does, will men be able to trust 
this solution?" 

Also, In these segments are professional men and scientists, who can re- 
member the time when facts, now recognized by academies as firmly 
established, were scorned by these very same learned bodies. Here 
also, are found those art theorists, who write profound books, recognizing 
today what they scorned only yesterday. In revered tones, they proceed 
at last to cross barriers which art had passed long before and set up new 
barriers, which are presumed to forever remain in their new positions. 

What these philosophers fail to realize Is that they are raising these 
barriers not In the path of art but behind it. They will notice It only to- 
morrow and promptly write more books to continue the shifting of bar- 
riers a bit further. This unabating performance continues until It Is real- 
ized that the principles of art can only be applied to the past but never 
to the future. No theory applies to that which lies beyond the realm of 
the Immaterial. That which has, as yet, no material existence cannot 
crystallize materially. The spirit which leads into the realm of tomorrow 
can only be recognized by the sense (guided by artist's talent). Theory 
Is like a lantern which sheds its light on the crystallized forms of the past. 
(For further details see chapter VII, Theory). If we climb even further up, 
we find still more confusion; such as would prevail if a mathematically 

23 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



constructed city were suddenly overthrown by uncontrollable forces of 
nature. Yet, people really do live in a spiritual city where forces become 
suddenly effective • — not anticipated by architects and mathematicians. 
Imagine a great wall tossed to pieces like a flimsy card-house, the 
chambers of a huge tower soaring to the heavens with its lofty points 
of "immortal" spiritual pillars totally destroyed. The abandoned church- 
yard quakes. Forgotten graves open and release equally forgotten spirits. 
All artificially contrived suns burst into spots, leaving no substitute 
against darkness. 

In this city there are people deafened through queer thoughts, who hear 
no crash and who are blinded by strange ideas. They believe the sun is 
becoming brighter, and that soon they shall see the last remnants of 
darkness disappear. These men will be able to hear and see. 

Still higher-up there exists no fear at all. Here, work goes on, boldly at- 
tacking the very pillars of the foundation, which men have installed. Here, 
also, are professional scientists, who test matter over and over, who fear 
no problem and, finally, cast their doubts on that very matter consid- 
ered only yesterday as the basis of earth. The theory of the electron, 
the ever restless atomic core, which is supposed to replace all matter, 
immediately finds its daring devotees, who ever so often, overstep the 
border of safety and die, while yet conquering another stronghold of 
science, in the manner of self-sacrificing soldiers forgetting all caution 
in their desperate fight, to win the stubborn fortress wall. Yet, "there 
Is no impregnable fortress." 

On the other hand, there is an ever increasing number of cases when 
science is greeted with the well-known word, "swindle." Even the news- 
papers, those most obsequious servants of success, and the masses, whose 
trade-mark is, "as you like it", find themselves compelled, in some cases, 
to modify their Ironical judgments on the "marvels" of science, even 
sometimes to abandon them altogether. Various learned men, pure ma- 
terialists among them, devote their strength to the scientific research 

24 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



of puzzling problems which can no longer be denied or passed over in 
silence *). 

There is also an increasing number of men who place no trust in the 
methods of materialistic science when it deals with questions referring 
to such "non-matter" or matter inaccessible to our minds — just as 
artists are looking for assistance from the Primitives and their almost 
forgotten methods. These vital methods, however, are still alive among 
the Primitives, to whom we turn in disdain, from the high peak of our 
so-called knowledge. 

Included in their number are, for example, the Hindus, who, from time 
to time, confront these learned men of our civilization with puzzling facts, 
which have always been either overlooked, or brushed aside with super- 
ficial explanations, like so many troublesome flies**). Mrs. H. P. Blavatsky 
was perhaps the first person who, after many years in India, tied a strong 
knot between these "savages" and our culture. From that moment on 
was started one of the greatest spiritual movements in this direction, 
which today unites a great number of people, and which has even as- 
sumed a material form in the "theosophical society." This society con- 
sists of groups who seek to approach the problem of the spirit by the 

*) Zoellner, Wagner, Butlroff, (Petersburg); Croob, (London); etc. Later Charles 
RIchet, C. Flammarion (even the Paris "Matin" bring the quotations of the latter 
under the title, "Je le constate, mais {e ne I'explique pas," about two years ago). 
Finally, C. Lombroso, the originator of the anthropological methods in the question 
of crime takes part with Eusapia Palladino at serious spiritualistic meetings and 
admits the existence of the phenomenon. Besides the fact that the other scientists 
devote their time to such studies, entire scientific committees and clubs are formed 
for this same purpose. (For instance, Societe des Etudes Psychiques In Paris even 
organized observation trips in France, in order objectively to familiarize the public 
with the results achieved). 

**) In such cases, frequent use is made of the word hypnotism, that same hypnotism 
which in its earlier form of mesmerism was disdainfully pushed aside by numerous 
academies. 

25 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



way of inner enlightenment. Their methods, which formed a contrast 
to the positive procedure, are based on things that happened in the 
past, which are then brought forward and interpreted in a comparatively 
precise form *). 

The theory of Theosophy, which serves as the basis of this movement 
was set out by Blavatsky in the form of a catechism in which the people 
received definite answers to her questions from these theosophists**). 

According to her, theosophy is synonymous with eternal truth. 
"A new herald of truth will find the minds of men prepared for his mes- 
sage by these theosophists: A new manner of expression is created in 
which to clothe the new truths, an organization which will await his ar- 
rival, and will then proceed to remove the merely material obstacles and 
difficulties from his path." The last words in Blavatsky's book are, "in the 
twenty-first century, earth will be a heaven compared to what it is now." 

At any rate, even though the tendency of the theosophists to create 
a theory and possible premature joy, with which they soon expect to 
answer the great, eternal question, it may easily make the observer skep- 
tical, because the great, spiritual essence of the movement remains. 
It is a strong agent in the spiritual atmosphere and will reach into many 
hearts now lost in darkness and night. The voice of a redeemer, a guiding 
hand points the right way. 

When religion, science, and morals (the latter by the strong hand of 
Nietzsche) are shaken and when the outer supports threaten to fall, 
man turns his gaze from the external to the deeper essence within him. 

Literature, music, and art are the first sensitive spheres in which this 

*) See for example, Dr. Steiner's "Theosophy" and his article in "Lucifer-Snosis" or 
"ways to knowledge." 

**) H. P. Blavatsky: The Key of Theosophy, Leipzig, Max Altmann, 1907. The book 
was published in English in London in 1889. 

26 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



spiritual revolution makes itself felt, in the form of reality. These spheres 
reflect Immediately the dark picture of the present; they feel the im- 
mensity of what, at first, was only a minute point of light, noticed by 
few and ignored by the vast majority. 

These spheres reflect the great darkness which, at first, was barely indi- 
cated. Gradually, they dim and darken. Yet, on the other hand, they turn 
from the soulless life of the present to approach those substances and 
forms which strive freely in the non-material search and which survive 
even in the darkest soul. 

In the realm of literature, Maeterlinck takes us into a world, rightly 
or wrongly, termed supernatural. His Princesse Maleine, Les Sept Prin- 
cesses, Les Aveugles, etc., are not people of past times such as the heroes 
of Shakespeare appear to us. They are merely souls searching in the mist, 
which threatens to suffocate them, and over which an invisible, somber 
power floats eternally. Spiritual darkness and insecurity, indicating ex- 
treme ignorance, comprise the world of his heroes. Thus, Maeterlinck 
is perhaps one of the first prophets and artistic reporters of the pre- 
viously described decline. The darkening of the spiritual atmosphere, the 
destructive or guiding hand, the desperate fear, the lost way, the awaited 
leader, all such conceptions clearly are reflected in these works *). 

Maeterlinck creates this atmosphere by entirely artistic means. Yet 
these means (glossy citadels, moonlight nights, marshes, the moaning 
of the wind, owls, etc.), are merely symbolic and are used to create 
an inner sound**). Maeterlinck's principle effect originates in the word, 

*) Top ranking as such a seer of decadence is Alfred Kubin. With irresistible force, 
we are drawn into the agonizing atmosphere of desolate emptiness. This power is 
radiated from Kubin's drawing as well as from his novel, "The Other Side." 

**) When one of Materlinck's plays was produced in St. Petersburg under his own 
management, he himself, at one of the rehearsals, had a missing tower represented 
by a plain piece of cloth. It was of no importance to him to have a skillful replica 
prepared. He did as children do, (the greatest imaginers of all time,) in their games 

27 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



which constitutes an inner sound. This sound Is derived partly, 
or mostly, from the object's name. Yet, as the object Is not perceived 
but merely named, the hearer receives an abstract impression of the 
de-materialized object. This creates a certain inner vibration. Thus, the 
green, yellow and red trees on the meadow are only the material fact, a 
co-incidental, corporeal conception of a tree which we may feel within us 
on hearing the word, "tree." Skillful application (In Its poetical meaning) 
of the word itself, which, as an artistic necessity Is repeated twice or 
three times. If not more frequently, not only intensifies the reiterated 
sound, but also brings to light unsuspected spiritual properties dwelling 
In the word Itself. Similarly, there was the frequent repetition of a word 
in a child's favorite game, which was forgotten in later life. 

The abstract value of the Indicated object fades away into the pure 
sound of the given word. This "pure" sound of the word we may hear 
unconsciously, when in harmony with the real, or abstract meaning of 
the object. In the latter case, this pure sound comes to the fore and 
directly influences the soul. Here, it produces a non-objective vibration 
more complicated, I may say, more super-sensuous even, than that caused 
by the sound of a bell or the sound of a stringed instrument, the fall of 
a plank, etc. This Indicates vast possibilities for the literature of the fu- 
ture. In its embryonic form, this power of the word is, for example, al- 
ready employed in "Serres Chaudes." When used by Maeterlinck, such 
a word — at first seemingly neutral In its Impression — rings a far more 
subtle note. A simple, everyday word (such as "hair"), if felt for Its 
proper use, can convey a feeling of despair and hopelessness. Such Is 
Maeterlinck's method. He takes us along the path where thunder, light- 
ning, and dark clouds are but exterior, material means, which on the 

when they use a stick for a horse, or organize an entire cavalry regiment out of paper, 
or, with one extra fold can successfully transform a horseman into a horse. (Kuegelgen: 
"Rememberances of an Old Man"). This trend to arouse the imagination of the 
observer plays a great part in the theatre of today. This is a necessary transition from 
the material to the spiritual in the theatre of the future. 

28 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



stage, more than in nature, equal the "bogey-man" — so frightening 
to children. True inner forces do not lose their force and effect so 
easily *). The word which thus has two meanings — (first the direct and 
then the indirect) — is the pure substance of poetry and literature 
which this art alone can use and through which it speaks to the inner- 
most soul. Wagner's music contains similar means. His famous "leitmotif" 
is an attempt to emphasize heroic personalities beyond theatrical ex- 
pedients, as make-up and light effects. He employs a definite "leit" 
motive, which is a pure musical medium. This motive, is, so to 
speak, a musically expressed spiritual atmosphere which precedes the 
hero, to effect a spiritual radiation felt from afar**). 

The foremost modern composers, such as Debussy, present spiritual im- 
pressions which they often derive from nature, and which they refine into 
spiritual visions by purely musical means. For this reason, Debussy is often 
compared to the impressionistic painters, who, also, use impressions of 
nature's phenomena In their art. The truth, contained in this statement. 
Is another proof of the fact that the various art expressions of today 
seem to learn from each other, and often resemble each other in their 
aims. It would, however, be rash to say that the above-mentioned defi- 
nition is an exhaustive statement of Debussy's significance. 

Despite his similarity to the impressionists, the urge of this musician for 
Inner spiritual harmony is so strong that in his work one hears immedi- 
ately the suffering soul and shaken nerves of our present-day with all 
its sufferings. Debussy never uses the entire materialistic note, so char- 

*) This becomes clearly evident when comparing the works of Maeterlinck and Poe. 
This is again an example of the advance of artistic means from the material to the 
abstract. 

**) Frequent attempts have shown that such a spiritual atmosphere can belong not 
only to heroes but to any plain human being. Sensitive people, for example, cannot 
remain in a room previously occupied by a person spiritually antagonistic to them 
even though they know nothing of his existence. 

29 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



acteristic of program music, but restricts himself to the utilization of 
the spiritual value in the appearances. 

Russian music (Mussorgsky] has had a great influence on Debussy; there- 
fore, it is not surprising that a certain relationship of the young Russian 
composers to Scriabin, first of all, can be noted. There is a definite sound 
relationship in their compositions. The same errors are often disturbing 
to the hearer. Apparently, both composers, suddenly snatched out of 
the realm of the "new ugliness," follow the charm of the more or less 
conventional "beauty." The listener often feels truly insulted as he is 
tossed about like a tennis ball which separates opposing parties: those 
representing the "exterior beauty" from those searching for "inner 
beauty." This inner beauty is created by an imperative inner necessity 
which renounces conventional beauty. To the uninitiated, this inner 
spiritual beauty naturally appears ugly, because humanity inclines 
to outside charm, dislikes recognition of inner necessity, (increasingly 
so today!). Almost alone, enthusiastically recognized today by only a few, 
the Viennese composer, Arnold Schoenberg, advocates full renunciation 
of conventional beauty sacreligiously, while accepting all those means 
leading to unconventional self expression. This "propagandist," "swind- 
ler," and "charlatan," in his "teachings of harmony," says ". . . every 
harmony, every advance is possible. However, I feel today there are also 
here definite rules which determine whether I use this or the other dis- 
sonance" *). 

Here Schoenberg clearly feels that the greatest freedom of all — the 
freedom of an unfettered and unconditional art — can never be absolute. 
Every epoch is measured by a certain amount of this freedom. The great- 
est genius can not exceed these boundaries, but this measure must be 
exhausted to its fullest extent each time. May the obstinate heart resist! 
Schoenberg, too, endeavors to exhaust this freedom, and, on the road 
to inner necessity, he has discovered already treasures of new beauty. 

*) "Die Musik" (Music) page 104 of the "Teachings of Harmony." (Edited by Uni- 
versa! Edition). 

30 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



His music leads us Into a new realm where the musical experiences are 
not acoustic but purely soul inspiring. Here begins the "music 
of the future." 

Similar idealistic doctrines are followed by the impressionistic move- 
ment in painting, which, in their dogmatic and purely naturalistic form, 
arrives at the so-called Neo-lmpressionism, and, at the same time, reaches 
over into the abstract. This theory, which the Neo-lmpressionlst considers 
a universal method, is to represent nature, with all its glitter and brilliance 
on canvas, instead of only one isolated part of it *). 

Almost at the same time, we notice three decidedly different schools: 
I. Rosetti and his pupil Burne-Jones with his followers; 2. Boecklln with 
Stuck and their followers; 3. Segantini, with his stylized followers form- 
ing an unworthy train. 

These three names were chosen as characteristic of their search In the 
realm of non-materialistic. Rosetti turned to the pre-Raphaelltes and 
tried to revive their abstract forms; Boecklln turned to the realm of 
mythology and the imaginative, but, In contrast to Rosetti, he gave a 
pronounced material form to his legendary figures; Segantini, outwardly 
the most materialistic of the three, selected complete, natural objects 
(for example, mountain ridges, stones, animals, etc.). Often reproducing 
them in the most minute detail, in spite of the obvious material domi- 
nance, he always succeeded in creating abstract values so that in his 
inner conception, he is probably the least materialistic of the three. 
These are the searchers for the inner life of the external. A similar task 
to find a new law of form was realized by Cezanne. He made a living 
thing out of a teacup. To be more precise, he realized the existence of 
a being in this cup. He raised the "nature morte" to a height where the 
exteriorly "dead" object becomes Inwardly alive. He treated these things 
as he would the human being, because he was endowed with the gift of di- 
vining Inner life In everything. He gives to them a colourful expression, 

*) See, for example, Signac, "De Delacroix au Neo-lmpressionisme." (from Delacroix 
to Neo-lmpressionism). 

31 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



which establishes an artistic, inner note and molds them into the form, 
which are elevated to abstract sounding notes of harmony radiating math- 
ematical formulae. It is not a man, an apple, or a tree that are represented. 
All are solely used by Cezanne for the construction of an innermost 
artistically sound reality which we call a painting. One of the greatest 
contemporary Frenchmen, Henri Matisse, classifies his works in this cate- 
gory. He paints "pictures," and in these "pictures" he searches for the 
divine*). To attain this end, he requires as a starting point no other means 
than the object (human or any other) and those tools that belong to 
painting and to painting alone — colour and form. 

Through purely personal qualities of being a Frenchman and so an especi- 
ally gifted colourist, Matisse lays too much stress on colour. Like Debussy, 
he cannot often free himself from the conventional beauty. Impressionism 
is in his blood. Thus, we find great inner vitality in some of his paintings 
produced by an inner necessity. Again, his paintings result entirely from 
an outer charm (how often one is reminded here of Manet) possessing 
mainly or exclusively materialistic existence. Here, the typically French re- 
fined "gourmanderie," the purely melodic beauty of painting, soars to 
austere heights far beyond the clouds. 

The other great Parisian, the Spanish Pablo Picasso, never succumbs to 
this beauty. Always led by the need for self expression, often tossed 
hither and thither, Picasso throws himself from one exterior means to an- 
other. When a gulf appears between these means, Picasso makes a bold 
leap and suddenly appears on the other side to the bewilderment of his 
huge crowd of followers. No sooner do they believe they have finally 
reached him, when they must once again start the ungainly up-and-down 
pursuit. In this way, there came into existence the last "French" move- 
ment of Cubism, which is treated in detail in part two. Picasso is trying 
to arrive at the constructive proportion, by way of the mathematical. 
In his latest works (19 II), he arrived by logical means at the destruction 

*) See this article in "Kunst und Kuenstler" (Art and Artists) 1909 volume Vlli. 

32 



THE SPIRITUAL TURNING-POINT 



of the material, not however, by its dissolution but rather by a kind of 
destruction of its various parts and by constructional dispersion of these 
parts on the canvas. Strange to say, he seemingly wishes to retain the 
materialistic appearance. Picasso shrinks from no innovation and if the 
colour seems to disturb him in his search for a pure artistic form, he throws 
it overboard and paints a picture in brown and white. In such problems 
lies his force, Matisse, colour, Picasso, form, two great indications of a 
great goal. 




33 




IV 

THE PYRAMID 



The different art expressions display themselves each in its own way and 
peculiar manner. 

Despite, if not due to this singularity, never in times before, have dif- 
ferent art expressions been so close to each other as at this hour of spir- 
itual evolution. 

The seeds of strife towards the beyond, the abstract and the inner- 
most nature are contained in each manifestation. Consciously or 
unconsciously, they obey the word of Socrates: "Know Thyself." Whether 
consciously or not, the artists gradually turn to their material to test the 
balance of each separate element's innermost value, out of which they 
derive their creations of art. 

34 



THE PYRAMID 



The natural result of this striving is a comparison of the elements of 
each art with those of another. . In this instance, we learn the most from 
music. With few exceptions and deviations, music has, for centuries, been 
the art which has used this means, not so much to represent natural phe- 
nomena but rather, as an expression of the artist's spiritual life and to the 
creation of a unique life of musical sounds. 

A painter who finds no satisfaction in the mere representation of natural 
phenomena, however artistic, who strives to create his inner life, enviously 
observes the simplicity and ease with which such an aim is already 
achieved in the non-material art of music. It is easily understandable that 
he will turn to this art and will attempt to reciprocate it with his own 
medium. From this derives some of the modern search in painting for 
rhythm, mathematical abstract construction, colour repetition, and man- 
ner of setting colour into motion. 

The comparison of various means with which each single art expresses it- 
self, by learning from each other, can only be successful and conclusive if 
the lesson is not only superficial but truly fundamental. Thus, one art must 
learn from another how to use its common principle and how to apply it to 
the fundamentals of its own medium. Borrowing these methods, the artist 
must not forget that all mediums contain within themselves unique char- 
acteristics, and it is up to him to discover the proper application. 

In this application of form, music achieves results which are beyond the 
realm of painting. On the other hand, painting outdistances music in many 
ways. For instance, music has, at its disposal, the duration of time, while 
painting does not possess this advantage but presents to the spectator Its 
entire message in one single Instance *), something music is incapable 
of doing. Music, by its very nature, is ultimately and fully emancipated 

*) These differences are, as everything in the world, relative. In a certain sense, 
music can avoid the extension of time while painting can utilize it. As already stated, 
all assertions have but a relative value. 

35 



THE PYRAMID 



and needs no outer form for its expression*). Painting today is still 
almost exclusively dependent on natural forms taken from nature. The 
painter's contemporary task consists of testing its power and means of 
counterpoint, as music did in the attempt to apply these means for the 
purpose of creation. Deeply concentric, each art is separated from the 
other, but on the other hand, they are combined in their innermost 
tendencies. Thus, it is found that every art has its own strength which can- 
not be substituted for another. Therefore, we finally arrive at the en- 
croachment of the power of the various arts upon one another. 

From this inner tendency will arise, in the future, the truly monumen- 
tal art, which today we can already foresee. 

Anyone, who absorbs the innermost hidden treasures of art, is an enviable 
partner in building the spiritual pyramid, which is meant to reach into 
heaven. 

*] How miserably music fails when attempting fo express the exterior form, is shown 
by narrowly understood program music. Such experiments often have been made. 
The imitation of the sound of croaking frogs, noises on a chicken farm, the sharpening 
of knives may be worthy of a vaudeville stage and may be very entertaining as an 
amusement. In serious music, however, such digressions can only constitute a warning 
against the failure of "representing nature." Nature has its own language which has 
an irresistible power over us. This language cannot be imitated. If a chicken farm 
is represented in music in order to create thereby the atmosphere of nature and with 
it present this atmosphere to the hearer, we find that this is an impossible and un- 
necessary problem. Such a feeling can be created by any art, not by outward 
imitation of nature, but by artistic representation of this atmosphere through its 
innermost values. 



36 




ALBRECHT DURER 



THE DESCENT FROM THE CROSS 



37 




RAPHAEL 



THE CANIGIANI HOLY FAMILY 



38 




PAINTING 

V 

THE EFFECT OF COLOUR 



When you let your eye stray over a palette covered with colours, tv^o 
main results are produced: 

I . The first is a purely physical effect when the eye itself is enchanted by 
beauty and the multiple delight of colour. The observer is pleased. He ex- 
periences a pleasure similar to that enjoyed by an epicure in tasting a 
delicacy. The eye is stimulated as the tongue is titillated by a spicy dish. 
Or it is refreshed and soothed as a finger touching ice. 

All these are physical sensations which, as such, are only of short duration. 
They are superficial and leave no lasting impression if the soul remains 
unaffected. 

Just as in touching ice we experience a physical feeling of cold that is 
quickly forgotten once the finger has been warmed again, so the physical 
effect of colour is forgotten once the eye is turned away. Just as the physi- 

39 



THE EFFECT OF COLOUR 



cal sensation produced by the coldness of ice when it penetrates further 
arouses a stronger sensation, so can the superficial impression of colour 
deepen into a lasting reaction. 

With the average person, the impression caused by familiar objects will 
be purely superficial. However, those objects which we encounter for the 
first time at once impress us deeply. Thus, a child, to whom everything 
is new, experiences the world. Attracted by light it grasps the fire only to 
burn its fingers and so learns to respect and fear the flame. The child also 
learns the friendly side of light which drives away darkness, prolongs the 
day, cooks, warms, and brightens the hours of gaiety. 

After collecting these experiences, a familiarity with light has been estab- 
lished, and the knowledge is then stored in the mind. The strong, in- 
tense interest disappears and the entertainment offered by the flame is 
replaced by an ever-growing indifference. In this way, the world gradually 
loses its enchantment. We know, as a matter of fact, that trees give shade, 
horses can run fast and automobiles still faster, dogs bite, the moon is far 
away, or figures seen in the mirror are not real. 

As man develops further, the circle of impressions widens to embrace 
different beings and objects and the development continues until these 
beings and objects acquire the value of spiritual harmony. The 
same with colour, at first, it makes only a superficial impression upon a soul 
hardly developed to sensitiveness, an impression which disappears shortly 
after it has been evoked. Even the simplest effect varies in quality. The 
eye is attracted by light colours and still more by the lightest, warmest 
ones. Vermilion attracts and stimulates like the flame eternally craved for 
by all men. The bright yellow of a lemon hurts the eye after a while, as a 
shrill trumpet note may disturb the ear. The eye becomes restless, is un- 
able to fix its gaze for any length of time, and seeks distraction and rest 
in blue or green. 

This elementary effect comes from a deep-reaching emotion, that is due 
to spiritual development. In this case, the main effect produced by ob- 

40 



THE EFFECT OF COLOUR 



serving colour is a psychic effect. Here, the psychic power of colour takes 
hold, causing an emotional vibration. Thus, the first physical elementary 
force develops the channel, through which the deep, inner emotion 
reaches the soul. 

Whether this second effect is actually a direct one, as might be surmised 
from the above, or whether it is achieved by association, remains a ques- 
tion. As the soul generally is tightly bound to the body, it is possible that 
the psychic emotion may be aroused by means of association. For ex- 
ample, red may cause a spiritual vibration, analogous to that caused by a 
flame, because red is the colour of flame. Warm red may prove exciting, 
or painful, even disgusting, through possible association with blood; as 
this colour recalls a physical agent which undoubtedly has a displeasing 
effect on the soul. This being the case, it would be easy, by association, to 
find the other physical effects of colour not only on the sense of sight but 
also on the other senses. For example, one could assume that light 
yellow would make a sour impression, because of its association with a 
lemon. 

However, it is hardly possible to carry such explanations through to the 
end. Regarding taste in colours, various examples are known where this ex- 
planation would not follow. A Dresden doctor tells of a patient, whom he 
characterizes as "spiritual and exceptionally superior," who finds that a 
certain sauce invariably tastes "blue" to him, meaning that it reminds him 
of the colour blue*). 

One might assume a similar explanation that impressions reach highly de- 
veloped people by way of the soul so quickly and directly, that an effect 

*) Dr. Freudenberg "Spalfung der Persoenlichkeit" — (The Spllfting of Personality), 
"Uebersinnliche Welt" — (Supersensuous World), 1908, pp. 64-65. Here, the aptitude 
of hearing colours, page 65, is mentioned. However, the author states that the com- 
parative tables do not represent a general rule. See L. Sabaneyeff in the weekly 
"Musik," Moscow, 1911, No. 9. The immediate proximity of a law is here mentioned 
with certainty. 

41 



THE EFFECT OF COLOUR 



created by taste is communicated immediately to the soul, as well as to 
the senses. This would be, so to speak, an echo or reverberation such as 
occurs when musical instruments, which are not being played, often re- 
sound to instruments which are being played. 

In accordance with this explanation, to see is not only a question of har- 
monious taste but also one of effect on the other senses. In the case of 
the eye, some colours can look sharp or piercing, while others appear 
smooth like velvet, so that one feels inclined to stroke them (dark ultra- 
marine, chrome oxide green and rose madder); even the distinction be- 
tween the warmth and coldness of a shade is based on such feelings. Some 
colours appear soft (rose madder) and others seem to be cold and hard 
(cobalt green, blue-green oxide), so that even when such colour is freshly 
squeezed from a tube, it has a dry appearance. 

The expression "scented colours" is also frequently used. Finally, the sound 
of colour is so precise that it would be difficult to locate anyone who 
would attempt to express the impression of bright yellow in the bass notes 
of the piano, or rose-madder as a soprano voice*). 

This explanation of association will, however, not suffice in some cases, 
which to us are of the greatest importance. Those who have heard of 
chromo-therapy know that coloured light can have a very definite influ- 

*) Much theory and practice have been devoted to this question. An attempt is 
made to give painting a possibility of building its counterpoint on the basis of the 
many similarities, also, physical light and air vibration. On the other hand, a success- 
ful attempt was made to impress a certain melody on unmusical children with the 
aid of colour, with for example, flowers. Mrs. A. Sacherjin-Unkowsky, who evolved a 
special precise method, has worked along these line for many years. This method is 
"to write music from the colour of nature, to paint the sounds of nature, to see sound 
in colour and hear colour musically." This method has been employed for years in 
the inventor's school and was accepted as useful by the St. Petersburg Conservatory. 
Finally, Scriabine, on more practical lines, has compiled a parallel table of musical 
and coloured tones which closely resemble the physical table of Mrs. Unkowsky. In 
"Prometheus," Scriabine has employed his principle successfully. (See table in the 
magazine "Musik," Moscow, 1911). 

42 



THE EFFECT OF COLOUR 



ence on the entire body. Repeated attempts have been made to utilize 
this power of colour and apply it in the treatment of various nervous dis- 
eases. It has been shown, in this connection, that a red light excites and 
has a stimulating effect on the heart, and blue, on the other hand, can 
even cause temporary paralysis. 

If such an effect can, also, be noticed in connection with animals and even 
plants, which is an established fact, the theory of association in this case 
becomes wholly inapplicable. At any rate, it is proved that colour em- 
bodies an enormous though unexplored power which can affect the entire 
human body as a physical organism. If this association does not appear to 
us sufficient, neither can we content ourselves with this explanation con- 
cerning the effect of colour on the psychic existence. Therefore, colour is 
a means of exercising direct influence upon the soul. Colour is the key- 
board. The eye is the hammer, while the soul is a piano of many strings. 
The artist is the hand through which the medium of different keys causes 
the human soul to vibrate. 

It is, thus, evident that colour harmony can rest only on the principle of the 
corresponding vibration of the human soul. This basis can be considered 
as the principle of innermost necessity. 

Q- 




*P 




O 



43 



VI 

THE LANGUAGE OF 
FORM AND COLOUR 



The man that hath no music in himself 

Or is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, 

Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; 

The motions of his spirit are dull as night; 

And his affections dark as Erebus; 

Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. 

(Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene I ) 



"The sound of music travels direct to the soul. There it is immediately 
echoed because "music is innate in man." 

Everyone knows that yellow, orange, and red suggest and represent ideas 
of joy and plenty." (Delacroix) *). 

*) P. Signac o. c. — Also, see the interesting article by K. Scheffler, "Notes on Colours" 
"Dekorativ Kunst"— Decorative Art— {February 1901). 

44 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

These two quotations show the deep relationship between the different 
art expressions, especially between music and painting. This striking simi- 
larity has probably caused Goethe to express the thought that all paint- 
ing must have one general foundation. This prophetic expression of 
Goethe's is a presentment concerning painting and the place it occupies 
today. It is the first stage on the road by which painting will, according 
to her own possibilities, grow in an abstract sense and, finally, reach a 
purely artistic composition. 

To create this composition, painting has, at its disposal: 

1. Colour 

2. Form 

Form stands alone as a representative of realistic or unrealistic object, or 
as an abstract limitation of space or surface. 

Colour cannot be extended "ad Infinitum." A limitless red can only be im- 
agined or visualized. Hearing the word "red," we feel no boundaries In our 
imagination, if necessary, it must deliberately be imagined. On the other 
hand, the red which Is not seen materially but imagined in an abstract 
sense, creates a certain precise or non-precise spiritual imagination, which 
carries a pure spiritual note*). This red has no independent transi- 
tion from hot or cold. This, also must be Imagined like subtle deviations 
of the red tone. For this reason, I term this spiritual seeing "un-precise." 
However, it is simultaneously "precise" as the inner harmony remains 
without coincidental inclinations to hot, cold, etc. This inner note Is sim- 
ilar to the tone of a trumpet or an instrument which sounds In our imagin- 
ation, when we hear the word "trumpet" or some other instrument Is men- 
tioned. This sound Is not detailed. We associate particular sounds with a 
solo, from different instruments, from the open air, or a closed room. 

*) Similar results can be seen in the following example of a tree, where, however, 
the material element of the imagination occupies a greater range. 

45 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

However, when this red must be present in material form as in painting, it 
must, first of all, be of a certain shade or tone from among the endless 
tonal variations of red. In other words. It must be given a certain sub- 
jective characteristic and, secondly, it must have a limited surface sepa- 
rated from other colours, which are undoubtedly there, but cannot be 
avoided and through which (limitation and proximity) subjective charac- 
terization is changed (giving It an objective shell). Here the objective note 
plays a part. 

This unavoidable influence and mutual relation between form and colour 
causes us to observe the effect, which form has on colour. The form, even 
if entirely abstract and resembling a geometric figure, has its inner har- 
mony and Is a spiritual being with characteristics Identical to it. A triangle 
(whether It Is pointed, flat, or equilateral) is a decided being, possessing 
its very own spiritual essence. Although joined in conjunction with other 
forms, this essence changes and assumes novel shades, while basically it 
remains unaltered, as the scent of the rose, which can never be mistaken 
for a violet. The same Is applicable to the circle, square, and other forms*). 

It Is the same evidence as explained above In the case of the red colour, 
subjective substance in an objective shell. 

Here, the contrasting efFect of form and colour becomes clearly evident. 
A triangle filled in with yellow, a circle painted blue, a green square, 
another triangle in green, a yellow circle, a square In blue, these are dif- 
ferent forms that have separate distinctive effects. 

The value of certain colours are emphasized by certain forms and dulled 
by others. In any event, sharp colours sound stronger in sharp forms (for 
example, yellow in a triangle). Those inclined to be deep are intensified by 
round forms (for example blue in a circle). On the other hand, if a form 
does not fit the colour, the conjunction should not be considered "Inhar- 

*) An important part is here played by the direction In which, for example, the tri- 
angle stands, that Is as movement. This is of great importance in painting. 

46 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

monious" but rather as a new possibility and, therefore, as harmony. As 
the number of colours or forms is endless, the combinations and effects 
are, also, infinite. This material is inexhaustible. 

Form, in the narrower sense, is nothing but the separating line between 
surfaces. That is its outer meaning. As everything external also contains 
an inner meaning (more or less noticeable), every form also has its inner 
substance*). 

Form, therefore, is the outward expression of its inner meaning. This is its 
spiritual designation. Here, we should recall the previously mentioned ex- 
ample of the piano replacing "colour" by "form". The artist is the hand 
which, by touching the various keys, (form), affects the human soul to re- 
spond to certain vibrations. 

Therefore, it is evident that forms of harmony reflect 
in a corresponding vibration on the human soul. 

This principle has been designated here as the principle of the 
innermost need. 

These two aspects of form are equally two sided in direction. The outward 
limitation of surfaces is, therefore, all the more expressive, if and when it 
Is Indicating the innermost content of the form**). The boundary of form, 
that is its limitation, which, In this Instance, serves the purpose of the form, 
may vary considerably. 

*) H a form appears meaningless and, as people say, "has nothing to say," this 
should not be interpreted literally. There is no form, or anything in the world 
which says nothing. The message, however, often does not reach our soul which 
happens in a case when something said is meaningless or, to be more accurate, has 
not been applied In its proper place. 

**) This "expressive" designation should be properly Interpreted; sometimes the form 
is fully performed when it Is subdued. At times the form is most expressive when 
it does not appear fully but Is only an indication, showing the direction for outward 
expression. 

47 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

Despite all variations which form offers, it will never exceed two exterior 
borders: 

1 . One form serves limitation with the purpose of deriving from it some 
material object, that is, to superimpose the material object onto a surface. 

2. The other form remains abstract, that is, it represents no object of 
reality but in itself is a fully abstract being. Such purely abstract beings, 
which possess their own life, their own influence, and their own value, are 
a square, a circle, a triangle, a rhombus, a trapezoid, and innumerable 
other forms becoming more complicated with no mathematical designa- 
tion. All these forms occupy space in the realm of the non-objective. 

Within these two borders lies the endless number of forms in which both 
elements are contained and where either the material or non-objective 
predominates. 

These forms are actually the wealth from which the artist derives all the 
component elements of his creation. 

Today the artist cannot progress exclusively with purely abstract forms, 
as these forms are not sufficiently precise. Limiting oneself to the un-pre- 
cise, it deprives one of possibilities, excluding the purely human and, 
therefore, weakening the power of expression. 

On the other hand, no perfectly material form exists in art. It is impossible 
absolutely to reproduce a material object. For better or worse, the artist 
succumbs to his eye; h i s hands, more artistic than his soul, aim beyond 
photographic objectives. The genuine artist, discontented with an inven- 
tory of the material objects, definitely seeks to give the object an expres- 
sion, something once called "Idealization," then "styllzatlon," and tomor- 
row something different *). 

*) The characterisfic of "idealization" was the effort to beautify the organic form, 
to idealize it, which easily resulted in schematically dampening its inner personal sound. 
"Stylization," developing from impressionist reasons, had, as its first aim, not the 

48 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

The futility and uselessness (in art) in attempting to copy an object without 
a motive, this desire to give the object definite expression drives the artist 
by a long detour from the "literal" colouring of an object to the pure artis- 
tic aims. This brings us to the question of composition. 

The pure artistic composition as seen from the problem of forms has two 
elements. 

1 . The composition of the whole picture. 

2. the creation of the various forms which stand in different relationship 
to each other and subordinate themselves to the combination of the 
whole*). Thus, many objects (real and possibly abstract) are subordi- 
nated to the dominating form in a painting, and are so altered as to fit 
themselves into this form, and create this form. Here the single form will 
have little personal meaning; it serves mainly the purpose of creating the 
major composition and should be mainly regarded as an element of this 
composite form. The single form is fashioned in no other way; aside from 
the major composition not because its own inner harmony implicitly 
demands it, but mostly because it is destined to serve as the building ma- 
terial of this composition. The first task, the composition of the entire 

beautifying of the organic form, but strong characterization through the omission 
of incidental details. For this reason, the tone and harmony created were of a 
purely personal character with a strong outer expression. The treatment and change 
of the organic form aims to uncover an inner sound. The organic form here no longer 
serves as direct object, but it is only an element of the divine message, which re- 
quires something human as it is directed from man to man. 

*) The general composition naturally consist of small compositions which outwardly 
may even appear antagonistic to each other and yet serve the great composition (in 
this case perhaps even this antagonism). These small compositions consist of indi- 
vidual forms and varied inner colouring. 

49 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

picture is followed as a definite aim*). 

The abstract idea in art is constantly creeping further into the foreground, 
although only yesterday it was hiding timidly and hardly visible behind the 
purely materialistic movement. This growth and final predominance of the 
abstract is natural. 

The further the organic form is pushed into the background the further 
the abstract will automatically come to the foreground and increase in 
emphasis. 

The remaining organic form, however, as previously stated, has its own 
inner tone and harmony, which may either be identical with the inner tone 
or harmony of the second component of the same form (the abstract ele- 
ment), a composition of the two elements; or it can be of a different nature 
(complicated, inharmonic combination). At any rate, the inner note of the 
organic form will be heard even though this organic form has been pushed 
into the background. For this reason, the choice of the material object is 
important. In the dual sound (spiritual accord) of the two component parts 
of the form, the organic one can sublimate the abstract one (as much by 
contrast as by similarity) or they may disturb each other. The object can 
only create a coincidental note, which, if replaced by another, will create 
no essential change of the basic note. 

*) A good example of this is Cezanne's "Bathing Women," a composition in a 
triangle (the mystic triangle). Such buildup in geometric form is an old principle 
which was finally abandoned, because it led to stiff academic formulas v/hich no 
longer possessed any inner sense or any soul. Cezanne's application of this principle 
gave it a new sou! and the purely artistic purpose of the composition became particu- 
larly emphasized. In this case, the triangle is not an aid to harmony of the group 
but the accentuated artistic aim. Here, the geometric form is, at the same time, the 
means to the artistic composition; stress is laid on the purely artistic with strong ac- 
companiment of abstraction. Therefore, Cezanne, with full justification, alters the 
human figure. He not only makes the entire figure point to the head of the triangle 
but also individual parts of the body are constantly driven, more and more strongly 
from the bottom to the top, as by an inner impulse. They become lighter and lighter 
until finally they expand visibly. 

50 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

Suppose a rhomboidal composition is made up of a number of human fig- 
ures. We test them with our sense of feeling and inquire if the human fig- 
ures are an absolute necessity to the composition, or could they be re- 
placed by other organic forms in such a manner, that the fundamental har- 
mony of the composition would not suffer. If the answer is yes, we have a 
case where the material appeal not only does not help the abstract con- 
ception but actually harms it. An indifferent note on the part of the object 
weakens the note of the abstract. This is not only logical but an actual 
artistic fact. In this case, therefore, another object, which is in better 
conformity with the abstract nature of the painting, (either through con- 
trast or similarity), should be found, or the entire form should remain 
purely abstract. Here, we again bring to mind the example of the 
piano. For "colour" or "form" we substitute "object." Every object (ir- 
respective of whether it was created direct by "nature or by human 
hand") is a being, which has its own life and, therefore, unavoidably its own 
appeal. Man is constantly subjected to this psychological appeal. Many 
results will remain in the "subconscious" (where they continue to be just 
as alive and creative). Many rise to the "super-conscious." Man can free 
himself from many of these, by closing his soul to them. "Nature," that is 
the constantly changing outer surroundings of man, sets in vibration the 
strings of the piano (soul) by manipulation of the keys (objects). This effect, 
which to us often seems chaotic, consists of three elements: the effect of 
the colour of the object, its form, and its combined colour and form. 

At this point, the individuality of the artist comes to the fore and super- 
sedes that of nature, as the artist disposes of these same three elements. 

We arrive easily at the conclusion that the opportune is the decisive 
factor. Itisclear, therefore, thatthis choice ofob- 
ject (one of the elements in the harmony of form) 
must be decided only by the corresponding vibra- 
tion of the human soul. 

Thus, the choice of the object originates from the principle of inner neces- 

51 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

sity. The freer the abstract form, the purer and more primitive is its ap- 
peaL In a composition, therefore, where the material side may be more or 
less superfluous, it can be accordingly more or less omitted and replaced 
by non-objective forms or through abstractions of de-materialized ob- 
jects. In any case of translation into the abstract or the employment of 
non-objective forms, the artist's sole judge, guide, and principal consid- 
eration should be his feeling. Finally, the more abstractions the artist em- 
ploys the more at home will he feel in the realm of the non-objective. 
Likewise the observer, led by artistic attainment to better knowledge of 
the language of the abstracted, finally, becomes fully conversant. 

Confronted with the question, must we then utterly abandon everything 
material, pluck it out of our artistic storehouse, and throw it to the winds 
so as fully to reveal the purely abstract? This is the natural question, 
through which the harmonizing of the appeal of matter and the non-mate- 
rial, simultaneously gives us the answer. 

As every spoken word (tree, sky, man) creates an inner vibration so does 
every object represented. Depriving oneself of these means causes an in- 
ner vibration, diminishing one's arsenal of expression-mediums. That, at any 
rate, is the case today, but besides today's answer, this question was set- 
tled by the eternal and immemorial answer which art gives to all questions, 
beginning with a "must." There is no "must" in art which is eternally free. 
From this "must" art flees as day shuns the night. 

When contemplating the second problem of composition, the creation of 
the individual forms necessary to build the complete composition, it 
should be remembered that the same form in identical circumstances will 
always point to the same inner appeal. Only the circumstances are con- 
stantly varying, bringing about two results: 

1. The ideal harmony changes in a composition according to its relation 
to other forms. 

2. It also changes in the limits of its surroundings (so far as it is possible 

52 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

to retain them) when the direction of the form is changed *). Automatic- 
ally, this brings about a further result. 

Nothing is absolute. Form-composition based on such relativity is depen- 
dent on: I. The variability of a composition of forms; 2. The variability of 
each particular form down to the smallest. 

Every form is as sensitive as a cloud of smoke. The slightest obvious change 
in each of its component parts alters it completely; in fact, it is per- 
haps easier to obtain the same note or harmony by means of various forms 
than by repetition of the same form. A truly exact repetition cannot be 
produced. As long as we are susceptible to the composition as a whole, 
this fact is mainly of theoretical importance. When we perceive a finer 
and stronger feeling through the use of the abstract forms, which will ac- 
cept no material interpretation, this fact will gain more in practical sig- 
nificance. On one hand, the problems of art will increase. Yet, at the same 
time, the abundance of forms will grow, as the quantity and quality of 
form-expression increase. At the same time, the question of distortion in 
drawing will automatically be abandoned and replaced by another one of 
much higher artistic import. How far is the inner appeal of a particular 
form concealed and how far does it give full expression? This changed 
viewpoint will lead to further greater possibilities of expression because 
concealing or veiling plays an enormous part in art. The combination of 
the veiled and fully expressed will suggest a new possibility of "leit-motifs" 
in form composition. 

Without similar development, the composition of forms would remain im- 
possible. Anyone who cannot experience the inner appeal of form (the 
material and particularly the abstract) will alv/ays consider such composi- 
tion exceedingly arbitrary. In this case, the aimless alterations in form ar- 
rangement on the surface appear as an empty play with forms. Once more 
we arrive at the same measure and principle, which we have thus far en- 

*) This is called movement. For example, a triangle directed upwards has a quieter, 
more steadfast, stable appeal than the same triangle set obliquely on its side. 

53 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



countered everywhere and proved as the only one that is purely artistic, 
free of all that is unessential, the principle of the inner ne- 
cessity. 

When, for example, the features or parts of the body are changed or dis- 
torted for artistic reasons, we are confronted not only with the pure ques- 
tion of art in painting but also with anatomy, which hampers the work of 
painting and forces the artist's attention to the consideration of unimpor- 
tant factors. In our case, however, everything unimportant is automatic- 
ally dropped and only the essential remains, the artistic aim. The arbitrary, 
but in reality strictly directed possibilities of altering forms, is one of the 
sources of an endless array of purely artistic creations. 

The adaptability of Individual forms and their innermost organic varia- 
tions, as well as their direction in the picture (movement); their inclination 
toward the material or to the abstract individual forms; the creation of 
the one dominant form amidst a group of forms; the compilation of the 
Individual forms with the form groups creating the form of the entire pic- 
ture; the principle of harmony or disharmony of all parts mentioned (I. e. 
the conjunction and juxtaposition of individual forms, the hindering of one » 
form by another as well as the impulse, acceptance and disintegration of 
the individual form); identical treatment of various form groups combining 
the veiled and openly expressed appeals; the use of rhythmical or un- 
rhythmical treatments on the same surface; the combination of the ab- 
stract form as a pure geometric form (plain or involved) in forms beyond 
geometrical designation; the combination of continuity or repellance 
(either stronger or weaker); all these are elements which lead to the pos- 
sibility of a purely artistic "counterpoint" and achieve this counterpoint. 
This will be the counterpoint In the art of black and white so long as colour 
is excluded. 

Colour, which contains material for counterpoint combining endless possi- 
bilities, will, when combined with design, lead to the great artistic coun- 
terpoint, where painting will achieve composition and, as a truly pure art, 

54 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

will become a divine instrument. The same infallible guidance will carry 
it to the towering heights, the principle of inner necessity. 

This inner necessity which consists of three mystical elements is brought 
about through three mystical ways: 

1 . Every artist, as a creator, has to express his own personality (element 
of personality). 

2. Every artist, as a child of his age, is impelled to express the spirit of 
his age (element of style composed from the message of the epoch 
and the language of the nation, as long as the nation continues to 
exist). 

3. Every artist, as a servant of art, Is impelled to present art as such (ele- 
ment of pure, eternal art, which is constant among all people, nations 
and ages, and Is evident In the works of every artist, every nation and 
every epoch, as the main element of art, irrespective of time and 
space). 

It Is necessary to penetrate these first two elements with the spiritual 
eye In order to visualize the third. Then, one will see that a "rudely" carved 
column of an Indian temple Is an expression of the same spirit that inspires 
the most "modern" painting. 

There has always been much talk of personality in art. One will hear dis- 
cussed the subject of a coming style. Though these questions are of ut- 
most importance, after a few hundred or thousand years, they will lose 
most of their importance and magnitude. 

Only the third element, pure and eternal art, will remain forever. It does 
not lose its power with the passing of time; indeed, it constantly gains in 
strength. An Egyptian plastic probably moves us more today than Its con- 
temporaries, as it was too closely attached to them, in view of their knowl- 
edge of their period, and the personality of their times. Today, we hear 
about pure expression of eternal artistry. Similarly, the more a "modern 

55 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



work" has of the first two elements the easier, of course, it will find its way 
to the soul of its contemporaries. Furthermore, the more the third element 
exists in the modern work, the more the first will be submerged and the 
harder it will be for it, to find the way to the soul of its contemporaries. 
For this reason, it is sometimes necessary for many centuries to pass be- 
fore the melody of the third element in the work of an artist betokens the 
greatness both of the work and of the artist. 

These three mystic elements are the three necessary factors in a work of 
art, so closely connected with each other. Interwoven, they are the expres- 
sion of that uniformity. In spite of this, the two former elements incorpo- 
rate period and space, while In the pure and eternal artistry, which is be- 
yond time and space, this creates a comparatively non-transparent shell. 
The process of development in art consists, so to speak, of the separation 
of the pure and eternal art from the element of personality as well as from 
the element of an epoch. Thus, these two elements, while cooperative, are 
equally retarding forces. 

The personal and periodic style creates many precise forms In every epoch. 
In spite of the apparent major difference, they are so closely related or- 
ganically that they can be designated as. one single form; their 
Inner sound Is finally but one major chord. 

These two elements are of a subjective nature. Every epoch strives to 
reflect itself, to express its life. Likewise, the artist wishes to 
express himself and chooses only those forms which are sympathetic to 
h I s soul. 

Gradually, the style of the epoch shapes and takes on a certain exterior, 
subjective form. The pure and eternal art, on the other hand, is the objec- 
tive element, which uses the subjective to become understood. 

The unavoidable desire of the objective to express Itself is the power 
which is here designated as inner necessity and which employs one gen- 
erally subjective form today and another tomorrow. It Is the constant, 

56 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

tireless lever, the spring which constantly drives "onward." The spirit 
nfioves on, and for this reason, today's inner laws of harmony are to- 
morrow's exterior laws which, in their further application, live through 
necessity which has become external. The inner spiritual power of art 
uses the form of today as a stepping stone to its progress. 

In short, the working of the inner necessity and, therefore, the develop- 
ment of art is an ever advancing expression of the eternally objective in 
the temporary subjective. On the other hand, it is also fighting the sub- 
jective through the objective. 

For example, the form recognized today, is a conquest of yesterday's inner 
necessity which, on a certain exterior level of liberation, has actually re- 
mained free. This present liberty was insured by strife and, as usual, ap- 
pears to be "the last word" for many. The canon of this limited liberty is 
that an artist can use any form he wishes for his expression so long as he 
remains in touch with nature from which this form is derived. This require- 
ment, however, as all its predecessors, is only temporary. It is the exterior 
expression of today's outer necessity. From the point of view of the inner 
necessity, such a limitation should not be made and the artist may re- 
strict himself fully to the inner basis, which is deprived of the outer limita- 
tion, and which may, therefore, be defined as follows: the artist may 
employ any form to express himself. 

Finally, we see (and this is of utmost importance for all times and particu- 
larly for "today") that a deliberate search for personality and style (and 
incidentally for the nation's element] is not only impossible but likewise 
does most certainly lack the great meaning, which today is attributed to it. 
We observe that the general relationship of art, which is not weakened by 
the passing of time, but constantly and progressively strengthened, is not 
an exterior relationship in outward form but is lodged in that mystic con- 
tent of art. Clinging to a "school," searching for a "line of development," 
that insists on a work following certain "principles" and the means of ex- 
pression of a period can only lead to misunderstanding, misconception, 

57 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

obscurity, and mutilation. The artist should be blind to the importance of 
"recognition" or "non-recognition" and deaf to the teachings and de- 
mands of the time. His eye should be directed to his inner life and his 
ear should harken to the words of the inner necessity. Then, he will resort 
with equal ease to every means and achieve his end. 

This is the only way to express the mystic need. 

All means are sacred when called upon by innermost necessity. 

All means are a sin and lacking virtue, if they do not come from this 
source. 

On the other hand, though we could weave infinite theories along these 
lines today, a detailed theory is premature. In art, theory never precedes 
practices. Here, everything particularly in the beginning is a matter of 
feeling. Only through feeling particularly in the beginning, is it possible 
to achieve what is artistically right. Though the general constructon can 
be achieved in a purely theoretical manner, it is this feeling which remains 
the true soul of creation (and also its being) never conceived and never 
found by theory, only instilled into the creation spontaneously. Since art 
affects feeling, it can only be effective through feeling. The surest propor- 
tions, the most careful weighing and balancing will never bring about a 
proper result based on mental calculations and deduction. Such propor- 
tions cannot be figured out, and such scales cannot be ready-made *). 

They are not outside of the artist, but within him, and consist of what may 
also be termed a feeling of limitation and self restriction, an artistic tact, 
qualities which are inherent to the artist and which are increased through 
enthusiasm to ingenious revelation. This is the sense in which the basic 

*) The many-sided genius Leonardo da Vinci devised a sys+enfi of little spoons, wi+h 
which various colours were used. It was to create a kind of mechanical harmony. One 
oi his pupils tried in vain to use this system and after despairing, because of his lack 
of results, turned to one of his colleagues, with the question as to how the master 
himself used these spoons. "The master never uses them," answered the colleague. 
Merejkowsky "Leonardo da Vinci"). 

58 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

fundamentals of painting, as foretold by Goethe, may be understood. Such 
a grammar of painting, at present, can be guessed at and should it ever 
be achieved, will not depend so much on physical means (which have been 
tried and are still tried today, "Cubism"), as the rules of the inner 
necessity, which we might well term the necessaria of the soul. 

Thus, we see that at the basis of every small and great problem in painting 
there must be this inner necessity. The road along which we, most 
luckily, are moving today, leads away from the 'exterior,' *) towards the 
opposite basis which is the main basis of inner necessity. The body is 
strengthened and developed by exercise; so is the spirit. As the neg- 
lected body grows weakened and impotent, so does the spirit. The feel- 
ing inherent to the artist is the talent, as spoken of in the Gospel, which 
should not be buried. The artist who does not utilize his gift is like the 
slave, who was worthless and lazy. For this reason, it is not only unharm- 
ful but absolutely essential for the artist to know the starting point for 
such exercises. This starting point, weighing the inner value of materials 
on the great objective scale, is, in our case, the examination of colour, 
which, on the whole, must equally have its effect upon all mankind. 

It is, therefore, unnecessary to engage in the finer valuations of colour, 
for the elementary representation of simple colour will suffice. 

Let us concentrate on isolated colour, that is letting individual 

*) The term "exterior" should not be confused here with the term "material." 1 am 
using the former term only as a substitute for "outer necessity" which can never 
lead beyond the limits of the conventional, that is, traditional "beauty" only. The 
"inner necessity" does not know such limits and, for this reason, often creates results 
which are conventionally termed "ugly." "Ugly" is, therefore, only a conventional 
term which continues to lead a sham life long after the inner necessity (of an outgrown 
necessity, of which it is the result), has been superseded. At that time, everything was 
considered ugly if it was not connected with the inner necessity of the time, and any- 
thing so connected was termed beautiful. Everything, which appeals to the 
inner necessity is already beautiful by its virtue, and will be recognized sooner or 
later. 

59 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

colour work on us. A very simple method should be used, with the en- 
tire question condensed into as elementary a form as possible. 

Two great divisions which come to mind are: 

1 . Warmth and cold of colour tonality. 

2. Its valuation of light and dark. 

Thus develop four main effects of each colour which can be, or 

1 . warm and equally I. light and II. dark, and again 

2. cold with I . light, or 2 dark. 

Generally speaking, warmth or cold in a colour is respectively an inclina- 
tion towards yellow or blue. This distinction appears, as it were, on one 
surface, colour having the constant fundamental appeal but assuming 
either a more material or non-material quality. As it is a horizontal move- 
ment, the warm colours move on this horizontal surface towards the spec- 
tator striving to reach him while the cold ones retreat from him. 

Colours themselves, which cause this horizontal movement in another 
colour, are equally characterized by this same movement. Yet, they pos- 
sess still another movement, which strongly divides them from one an- 
other, through their inner appeal producing in this manner the first 
great contrast in the inner value. Therefore, the inclination of colour 
to cold or warm is of tremendous essential inner importance. 

The second great contrast or antithesis is the difFer- 
ence between black and white, the colours which formulate the other two 
of the four main appeals, that is, the inclination of colour to light or 
to dark. They possess the same movement, to and from the spectator, 
although not in dynamic but static rigid form, (see Figure No. I) 

The second movement of yellow and blue, which forms part of the first 
great antithesis, is Its eccentric and concentric movement *). If two 

*) All these statements are the result of spiritual experiences and are not based on 
any positive science. 

60 



FIGURE I 



First pair of antitheses: I and I! 



I Warm 
Yellow 



+ 



Cold 
Blue 



2 movements: 

I horizontal 

Towards 
spectator 

[corporal) 



Yell 



ow 



II Light 
White 



+ 



Dark 
Black 



Two movements: 

I discordant 

Eternal resistance but 
with possibility (birth) 



(Inner appeal acting upon the soul) 
= First antithesis 



■^^^ »>^ 



V »o„ t^ 



an 



d 



White Black 



Away from 
the (specta- 
tor) spiritual 



Blue 




concentric 



= II Antithesis 



Absolute lack of re- 
sistance, devoid of 
possibility (death) 

11 ex — and concentric, as in case of yellow and blue, but in rigid form 



61 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

circles of the same size are drawn and painted respectively yellow and 
blue, a brief concentration on these circles will reveal in the yellow a 
spreading movement outwards from the center which almost markedly 
approaches the spectator. The blue, on the other hand, develops a con- 
centric movement (like a snail hiding in its shell) and moves away from 
the spectator. The eye is impressed by the first circle, while it is caught 
by the second. 

This effect is emphasized in the case of light and dark colours; the effect 
of the yellow is increased when it is made lighter with an admixture of 
white. The effect of blue increases if the colour is darkened with an ad- 
mixture of black. This fact gains in importance if we realize that yellow 
inclines to the light (white) to such an extent that there exists really no very 
dark yellow. There is, therefore, a deep relationship between white and 
yellow in the physical sense, just as there is between black and blue, blue 
being capable of such depth that it borders on black. 

Besides this physical relationship, there is a spiritual one which, through 
its intensity, marks a strong division between the two pairs (yellow and 
white on one side, and blue and black on the other) leading to a close 
relationship between the two parts of each pair. (Further details will be 
found in a subsequent discussion on black and white). 

An attempt to make yellow (typically warm colour) colder, produces a 
green tint immediately checking both movements (horizontal and eccen- 
tric). The colour receives a sickly, supersensuous character, as if a human 
being full of ambition and energy was checked in these ambitions or his 
vitality thwarted by outer circumstances. The blue by its contrary move- 
ment acts as a brake on the yellow and, finally, when more blue is added 
the two antithetic movements destroy each other, with complete quietude 
and immobility as the result. Thus, green is born. 

This happens to white, when mixed with gray. White loses its permanence, 
and the gray finally imposes itself. In a spiritual sense, the latter is closely 
related to green. However, green contains yellow and blue as paralyzed 

62 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

forces which can be reactivated. It has a possibility of movement which 
is completely lacking in gray. It is so lacking because gray is formed of 
colours that have no purely active (moving) forces, as they consist, on the 
one hand, of motionless resistance and, on the other, of an immobility 
void of any power of resistance. 

Since both component colours of green are active and have a movement 
all their own, it is possible to establish their spiritual appeal from the 
character of these movements. Likewise, if we experiment and allow the 
colours to influence us, we will arrive at the same results. As a matter of 
fact, the initial movement of yellow is the tendency to advance toward 
the spectator, which can be increased to a degree bordering on intru- 
sion by increasing the intensity of yellow; and also, the second move- 
ment, spreading beyond the boundaries, the dispersion of the power 
into Its surroundings are similar to the capacities of any material power 
which blindly assails an object to burst aimlessly in every direction. On 
the other hand, yellow, in any geometric form, if gazed at steadily, dis- 
turbs its observer, hurts him but also stimulates him. It displays all the 
characteristics of power expressed by a colour which finally carries an 
aggressive and insistent effect to the mind *). This quality of yellow, 
which has a great inclination towards lighter colours, can be brought to 
a power and height unbearable to the eye and to the mind. When so 
intensified, it sounds like a shrill horn, blown constantly louder, or a high 
pitched flourish of trumpets **). 

Yellow is the typical earthly colour and never contains 
a profound meaning. With an intermixture of blue, it takes on a sickly 

*) This is the effect of the yellow Bavarian letterbox, if it has not lost its original colour, 
it is interesting that the lemon is yellow (sour taste), the canary bird is yellow {shrill 
singing]. Here, there is a particular intensity of the coloured tone. 

**) A parallel between the coloured and musical tones, can naturally be only relative, 
just as a violin gives very different tones which can be expressed by various instru- 
ments to reproduce the various shades. In making such parellels, the pure tone of 
colour and music is considered unvaried by virbration or damper, etc. 

63 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



colour. When compared with the frame of mind of some individual, it 
would be capable of the colour representation of madness — not melan- 
choly or hypochondriacal mania but rather an attack of violent, raving 
lunacy. The mad man attacks other persons, smashes everything in his 
way, squanders his physical powers in all directions, uses them up with- 
out rhyme, reason or plan, until he has used them up completely. It is also 
akin to the utter waste when the last rays of summer strike the intense 
autumn leaves, deprived of the quieting blue which rises to the heavens. 
A very powerful colour is created, lacking all capacity of depth. This 
capacity of profound depth is found in blue and, theoretically, In all 
its physical movements: I. retreating from the spectator; 2. moving 
towards its own center. The same applies, if we allow the blue (in any 
desired geometric form) to work on the mind. The inclination of blue to 
deepen Is so strong that Its inner appeal is stronger when its shade Is 
deeper. The deeper the blue the more It beckons man Into the Infinite, 
arousing a longing for purity and the supersensuous. It Is the colour of the 
heavens just as we Imagine It, when we hear the word heaven. 

Blue Is the typical heavenly colour*]. 

When very dark, blue develops an element of repose **). When it sinks 
into black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human ♦**). It attains an endless, 

*) . . . the halos are golden for emperors and prophets (that is for mortals), and sky- 
blue for symbolic figures (that is spiritual beings); KondakofF, "Histoire de I'Art 
Byzantine, conslderee principalement dans les miniatures," Paris 1886-1891, Vol. II, 
page 382). 

**) Unlike green, which as we shall see later, is earthly, self-satisfied repose of rather 
solemn, supernatural profoundness, this is to be understood literally. On the road to 
this "super" lies the "natural" which cannot be avoided. All the tortures, questions, 
contradictions of the earth must be experienced. None have avoided them. Here, 
too, there is this inner necessity which is covered by the outer. The realization of this 
necessity is the source of "repose." From such repose we are far removed. It is 
difficult to approach the realm of this predominently spiritual blue. 

***) Also, different from violet. 
64 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

profound meaning sinking into the deep seriousness of all things where 
there is no end. Rising toward the light, a nnovement little suited to it, 
it takes on an indifferent character, growing more distant to men like 
the high, light blue of the sky. The lighter it is the weaker it becomes 
until it achieves a silent repose by becoming white. In music, light blue 
is like a flute, dark blue like a cello, and when still darker, it becomes a 
wonderful double bass. The deepest and most serene form of blue may 
be compared to the deep notes of an organ. 

Yellow easily becomes acute and cannot attain deep significance. It is 
difficult for blue to become acute, as it is incapable of rising to great 
intensity. 

An ideal balance in the mixture of these two diametrically and totally 
opposed colours is green. 

The horizontal movements, movements from and towards the center, 
destroy and nullify each other. This results in repose, a logical conclu- 
sion. The direct effect, on the eye and through the eye upon the soul, 
achieves the same result. This is recognized by doctors, particularly occu- 
lists. 

Absolute green, which is the most restful colour in existence, moves in no 
direction, has no corresponding appeal, such as joy, sorrow, or passion, 
demands nothing. This persistent lack of movement is a quality which 
has a quieting effect on the tired souls of men, though it becomes tire- 
some after a time. Pictures painted in shades of green confirm this state- 
ment. A picture painted in yellow will always exhale a spiritual warmth, 
or a blue painting appears cooling, (that is an active effect, because man, 
as an element of the universe, has been so created as to exercise constant, 
eternal movement). Green has a wearisome effect (passive effect). Passivity 
is the most characteristic quality of absolute green, carrying with it a 
certain emanation of this quality of richness and self satisfaction. For 
this reason, the absolute green in the realm of colour can be compared 
to the so-called bourgeoisie; it is an immovable, self-satisfied element, 
limited in every sense and, in many ways, resembling a fat, healthy, im- 

65 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

movably resting cow, capable only of eternal rumination, while dull 
bovine eyes gaze forth vacantly into the world *). 

Green, the colour of summer, comes to life after the winter months of 
storm and stress are left behind, and nature, the fabrile activity and 
growth of springtime forgotten, sinks satisfied to rest. (See Figure No. 2). 

When absolute green is brought out of balance, it rises to yellow and 
becomes alive, youthful, and gay. Through the dominance of yellow, an 
active power has reasserted itself. In the case of the dominance of blue, 
the green sinks deep and acquires an entirely different appeal by be- 
coming grave, still, and contemplative. Here, an active element enters 
an entirely different character from the one affected, and adds warmth 
to the green. 

Changing from light to dark, green retains its original character of 
equanamity and restfulness, the former increasing with the trend to light- 
ness, the latter with the inclination to depth, all of which is quite natural 
because these changes are caused by black and white. In music, the ab- 
solute green is best represented by placid, long-drawn middle notes of 
a violin. 

The latter two colours, black and white, have already been discussed in 
general terms. White is often considered asnocolour,ora negation of 
colour, (thanks to the Impressionists who see "no white In nature" **). 

*) This is also the effect of the much vaunted ideal gravity. How well Christ said 
this "You are neither cold nor warm. . ." 

**) in his letters, Van Gogh raises the question whether he may not paint a white wall 
dead white. This question which offers no difficulty for a non-representational artist, 
since he uses the colour as an inner harmony, appears as bold liberty against nature 
when viewed by an Impressionist, Naturalist painter. This question must appear just 
as revolutionary to the latter as the change of brown shadows to blue seemed previ- 
ously, (the favorite example of "green sky and blue grass"). Just as in the latter case, 
the transition from Academism and Realism to Impressionism and Naturalism is rec- 
ognizable, it is possible to detect in Van Gogh's question, the seed of "translation 
of nature." That is, the inclination not to represent nature as an exterior phenomenon, 
but to lay more stress on the element of inner impression, which was lately termed 
expression. 

66 



FIGURE II 



Second pair of antitheses 



C. Red = Movement 



Motion within itself 



CandD 
Green 



(Physical appeal of compli- 
mentary colours) 

= Third antithesis 

The spiritually extinguished 
First antithesis 

= Potentiality of motion 
= Motionlessness 




Red 

Ex — and concentric movements are absent in optical blend 
In mechanical blend of white and black 

D. Orange Violet 

Arise out of the first antithesis from: 

1. Active element of the yellow is red 

2. Passive element of the blue in red 



ORANGE 



YELLOW 



o= <( ( < 0^-f^ 




BLUE 



:=Grey 
= Grey 

Fourth antithesis 



Orange 
= Violet 

VIOLET 



>»xi>^-»=o 



In eccentric direction 



Motion within itself 



In concentric direction 
67 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

White is a symbol of a world from which all colour, as a material quality 
and substance, has disappeared. This world Is so far above us that we 
cannot perceive any sound coming from it. There is a great silence which, 
graphically represented, appears to us as a formidable, indestructible 
wall, though infinitely cold, reaching up into eternity. For this reason, white 
affects us with the absoluteness of a great silence. It sounds inwardly and 
corresponds to some pauses in music, which, though temporarily interrupt- 
ing the development of a melody, do not represent a definite end of the 
musical sequence. It Is not a dead silence but one full of possibilities. The 
white has the appeal of silence which has suddenly become comprehen- 
sible. It is a 'blank,' infinitely young, a 'blank' which emphasizes the 
Beginning, as yet unborn. Thus, probably, did the earth resound 
during the white period of the Ice Age. 

Like a nothingness after sunset, black sounds like an eternal silence, 
without future or hope. . Represented in music. It is as a final pause, which 
precedes the beginning of another world, yet signifying a termination as 
the circle is completed. Black is something extinguished like a burned pyre, 
something immobile, corpse-like, which has no connection with any oc- 
currences, and accessible to all things. It is like the silence of the body after 
death, the end of life. Outwardly, It Is the least harmonious colour yet, for 
that reason, any other colour, even the weakest, will appear stronger and 
more precise In front of It while in the case of white all other colours are 
minimized in their appeal and some are dissolved completely and retain 
but a mute, weakened shadow of it*). 

For that reason, white is used to colour pure joy and Infinite purity. Black 
Is the robe of greatest, deepest sorrow and the symbol of death. A blend 
of these two colours, created mechanically, produces Grey. Of course, 
a colour so created can offer no outer appeal or movement. Grey Is wlth- 

*) Vermilion rings dull and muddy against while, but against black it acquires a 
bright, pure, surprising power. Light yellow against white is weak; against black It Is 
so strong, that It forsakes the background and plunges forward to strike you squarely 
In the eye. 

68 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

out appeal and immobile. This immobility, however, is of a different kind 
from the repose produced by green which lies between two active colours 
and is their product. Grey is, therefore, the immobility of desolation. 
The darker this grey becomes the greater the predominance of desola- 
tion, of suffocation. When lightened, the colour becomes lighter, airier 
breathing more freely as if in relief and with a new hidden hope. A similar 
grey is produced by an optical mingling of green and red which achieves 
a spiritual blend of passive self-satisfaction and a strong glow of activity 

Red, as we imagine it, as an endless typically warm colour, has an 
inner, highly vivid, lively, restless appeal, which, however, does not possess 
the irresponsible and self-dispersive character of yellow, and, in spite of 
all energy and intensity, it creates a strong note of almost tenacious im- 
mense power. It glows in Itself and does not radiate much vigor outward- 
ly, achieving a manly maturity (See Fig. No. 2). This ideal Red, in reality, 
endures great changes, deviations, and mutations. It is very rich and varies 
broadly In Its material form. Think of the varieties of saturn red, vermilion, 
English red, rose-madder from the lightest to the darkest shades! This 
colour shows a possibility of adhering to the basic tone and still appearing 
characteristically either warm or cold **). The light, warm red (saturn) has 
a certain similarity to medium yellow (as a pigment it also contains much 
yellow) and arouses the feeling of strength, energy, ambition, determina- 
tion, joy, triumph (louder). In music, it sounds like a trumpet accompanied 
by the tuba, a persistent imposing, strong tone. 

In its medium shades such as vermilion, red gains in the persistence of In- 
tense feeling; it is like a relentlessly glowing passion, a solid power within 
Itself, which cannot easily be surpassed but which can be extinguished by 

*) Grey — immobility and repose. Delacroix already sensed this and tried to create 
repose by mixing green and red (Sig. sup. cit.). 

**) Of course, every colour can be warm and cold but nowhere is this contrast so 
strong as In red. A wealth of inner possibilities! 

69 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

Blue, as glowing iron is put out by water. This red endures no cold, and 
through it loses in both sense and appeaL This forceful, tragic cooling- 
off creates a note which is today scorned and unjustly avoided by paint- 
ers and insulted as "d i r t," which as a material being, has its inner ap- 
peal like any other object. For this reason, the exclusion of dirt in 
painting today is just as one-sided and unjustified as yesterday's fear of 
"clean colour." It should never be forgotten that all means are clean, 
if they are created by an inner necessity. Here, what is outwardly dirty 
may be inwardly pure, and, on the other hand, the outwardly pure can be 
inwardly dirty. 

Compared with yellow, saturn red and vermilion red are similar in charac- 
ter, but the appeal that reaches the spectator is much lower; this red 
glows but within itself, and the somewhat mad characteristics of 
yellow are almost completely lacking. It is probably more widely beloved 
than yellow, it is often used in primitive and traditional decorations and, 
also, in peasant costumes, because, in the open air, the complimentary 
colours to green are especially "beautiful." This red is very substantial and 
of a very active character as taken by itself and carries no deep appeal. 
This, also, applies to yellow. When it enters a higher sphere the appeal of 
red will be deepened, though it is dangerous to mix red with black be- 
cause the dead black subdues the glow and reduces it to a minimum. 
This, hov/ever, brings about the unemotional, hard immovable Brown, 
in which the red sounds like a hardly audible simmering. Yet, out of this 
exterior, the soft sound develops one of forceful inner contrast. 

Through the application of brown, an indescribably inner beauty is 
created, the delay. Vermilion now rings like a great horn and is comparable 
to the thunder of drums. 

Like any basically cold colour, the cold red (such as madder) can be deep- 
ened through azure. It also changes its characteristics considerably; the 
feeling of deeper glow grows while the active element gradually disap- 
pears completely. On the other hand, this active motion is not as wholly 
absent in red as, for example, in deep green but gives vitality. Therein 

70 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

dwells the great difference between a deep red and a deep blue, because 
in red something of the nnaterial is invariably felt. It reminds us of an ele- 
ment of deep and middle tones, of the cello played 'con passione.' When 
lighted, the cold red gains in the material sense but only in the pure 
meaning of this word. It wounds like innocent, youthful joy, the glad 
innocence of a young girl. This picture can be easily expressed in music 
through the high, clear singing notes of a violin *). This colour, intensified 
only by the mixture of white, is a colour well liked by young girls for clothes. 

Warm red, intensified by yellow, produces Orange. Through this ad- 
mixture, the movement of the red becomes the nucleus of the impulse, 
spreading out towards the spectator. The element of red, which plays a 
great part in orange, retains the accompanying note of its usual gravity. 
It is like a human being, aware of his own power and emanating happiness 
and health. The appeal, exercised by this colour, is like a medium-sized 
church bell reminding one of a strong alto voice or the singing of alto 
violins. 

As orange is red brought closer to humanity, so removing red through 
blue creates Violet which has the tendency to move away from hu- 
manity. This basic red, however, must be cold because the warmth of red 
cannot be mixed with the cold of blue (regardless of procedure), some- 
thing concerning the aspect of spirituality. 

Violet, a cooled-red both in the physical and spiritual sense, possesses an 
element of frailty, expiring sadness. This colour is considered proper for 
dresses of older women, as the Chinese actually use it as the colour of 
mourning. It is similar to the sound of an English horn, the shepherds flute, 
or the deep, low tone of wood instruments (for example, a bassoon] **). 

*) Pure, happy, often consecutive, tones of small bells (also, bells worn by horses) in 
Russian are termed to have a "raspberry" note. The colour of raspberry juice is 
similar to this described light and cold red. 

**) Among artists the question, "how are you?" is often jokingly answered, "very 
violet," which presupposes nothing good. 

71 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



The last mentioned colours, composed of a mixture of red with yellow or 
blue, have a rather inflexible balance. Inclination for loss of balance be- 
comes evident when colours are mixed. We have the feeling of a tight-rope 
dancer who must watch his equilibrium. Where does the orange begin and 
yellow or red cease? Where is the borderline of this violet which so defi- 
nitely divides it from the red or blue? *) The last two characterized colours 
(orange and violet) are the primary fourth and last contrast in the 
realm of primitive tonalities. Physically, they stand to each other in the 
same relation as the third antitheses (red and green) that is, as compli- 
mentary colours (See Fig. No. 2). 

As a great circle, or a serpent biting its own tail, (the symbol of eternity 
and endlessness) these six colours stand before us, while forming the main 
antitheses of three pairs. To the right and left stand two great possibilities 
of silence, death and birth (See Fig. No. 3). 

All I have said of these simple colours is very provisional and coarse. 
These feelings quoted as parallels to these colours (such as joy, sorrow) ex- 
press the material conditions of the soul. Variations of colour, like those of 
music, are of a much subtler nature, and awaken in the soul much finer 
vibrations than words could. 

Finally, each tone will certainly find some expression in the spoken word 
which must remain incomplete, not merely as an unimportant shading but 
rather as its innermost essence. Therefore, words remain more or less hints, 
rather than superficial indications of colour. In this impossibility to express 
the essential of colours in words or by other means lies the possibility of 
monumental art. Among many rich and various combinations will be 
found one precisely based on such a possibility. The same inner sound, 
can be achieved simultaneously through various art expressions. Yet, 
each art, while contributing its individual characteristics to the artistic 

*) The violet also has an inclination towards lilac. When does the one begin and the 
other end? 

72 



FIGURE III 



ORANGE 



YELLOW 



RED 




GREEN 



The antitheses as a circle between two poles, the life of primary colours 
between birth and death. 

The roman numbers designate the pairs of antitheses. 



73 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



unit, adds a different power to the general result, which cannot be 
achieved by any one single art alone. 

What inharmoniousness exists, that parallels the harmonious in depth, 
what infinite combinations between the various expressions, through the 
predominance of one art upon the other is possible can become evident 
to anyone. 

Opinion is often expressed that the possibility of replacing one art by an- 
other (for example, by the spoken word or by literature) amounts to a 
denial of the essential differences between the expressions of Art. This, 
however, is not the case. As stated, absolute repetition of the same sound 
can not be achieved by these various art expressions. Yet, should this 
be the case, such repetition of sound would differ, at least, in outer 
colouring. Even, if this were not the case (suppose a repetition of the 
same appeal by various art would provoke exactly the same appeal 
outwardly and inwardly) such a repetition would still not be superfluous, 
because different people incline towards different forms of art, (actively 
or passively), which means as senders or receivers of the sound. Yet, 
were it not so, the repetition would still not become meaningless. Repe- 
tition of identical sounds and their gradual accumulation intensifies the 
spiritual atmosphere in its finest essence, to deepen emotions much in the 
same way, as the atmosphere of a hothouse enables the ripening of fruit. 
One could compare it with an individual, who receives a powerful im- 
pression from some constant repetitious action, thought, or feeling, even 
though he is hardly capable of absorbing the different actions as a heavy 
material would absorb the first rain drops*). 

This almost tangible example, however, should not serve to portray a spir- 
itual atmosphere which, like air, can be either pure or replete with many 
alien elements. It contains not only the actions, which everyone observes 
but thoughts and feelings which may possess outward expression and those 
totally concealed actions, which "no one knows," unspoken thoughts, unex- 

*) Outwardly, this idea of repeH+ion is the fundamental basis of advertising. 

74 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

pressed feelings (that Is, actions within a person). All these are the ele- 
ments which create the spiritual atmosphere. Suicides, murders, acts of 
violence, low and unworthy thoughts, hate, hostility, egotism, envy, "pa- 
triotism," partisanship are all spiritual elements, of spiritual beings 
creating this atmosphere.*) Conversely, self-sacrifice, helpfulness, 
pure and lofty thoughts, love's altruism, joy for happiness of others, hu- 
manity, or justice are elements which destroy the negative elements, 
as the sun destroys the microbes In restoring purity to the atmosphere**). 

The second, more complicated, form of repetition, Is that in which dif- 
ferent elements participate in different forms. In our case of different 
art expressions (summed up — the monumental art), this form of repetition 
is even more powerful, because the different natures of men react differ- 
ently to various means. For some, the musical form, appealing to almost 
anyone, is the most impressive and moving; for others, it Is painting; still 
others, it is literature. Apart from this, the powers hidden in the various 
art expressions are basically different, so that they Intensify the result 
achieved in each person, even though each art may be working separately. 

This hard to define effect of individual colour is the reason why different 
values harmonize. Paintings, like artistically designed furniture and fur- 
nishings, are kept In a certain local tone according to artistic reaction. 
The penetration of one coloured shade, the combination of two adjacent 
colours, by mutual admixture, is the basis on which the colour harmony is 
built. Still, living In a time of many problems and questions, of present- 
iments and Interpretations full of contradictions (reference is made to the 
various segments of the triangle), we reach the conclusion that for har- 

*) There are periods of suicides, warlike alienations. War and revolution (the latter 

less than the former) are products of such an atmosphere which is further contaminated 

by such outbursts, "With the measure with which thou measurest thou shalt be 

measured!" 

**) Also, history knows such periods. No greater period than that of Christianity, 

which drew the weakest into its strife. Even the atmosphere of war and revolution 

contains such elements, which revitalize through spiritual counteraction. 

75 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 



mony, concerning the reaction to individual colour, our age is particularly 
unsuited. Perhaps, envious with a certain mournful sympathy, we listen to 
the music of Mozart, a welcome relaxation from the turmoil of our inner- 
most existence, a consolation and hope, yet only the past echo of another 
age, and fundamentally strange. The contrast of tonalities, loss of bal- 
ance, dying "principles," like the unexpected beat of a drum, weighty 
questions, aimless strife, lost impulses and longings, severed chains or ties, 
the antitheses and contradictions comprise the harmony of our day. 
The composition based on this harmony is a com- 
pilation of forms in colour design, which each de- 
velops from their existence through inner neces- 
sity, blended into a mutual entity called a picture. 

Only these individual parts are vital. Everything else, that is, the retention 
of objective elements, is unessential. The rest only is an accompani- 
ment. Derived from it logically are the combination of two colour ton- 
alities with each other. With the same principle of anti-logic, colours 
are now combined which were once considered discordant. For instance, 
red and blue side by side, which as colours have no physical relationship, 
yet achieve the strongest effect through their great spiritual contrast, 
which is our day's choice of harmony, relying on the principle of con- 
trast, a most important principle in art at all times. Our contrast is an 
inner contrast, which stands by itself and excludes any assistance (as dis- 
turbing and superfluous) of other harmonizing principles. 

This combination of red and blue, equally beloved by the primitives (me- 
dieval Germans, Italians, and others) has still survived today, especially in 
the popular form of religious wood-cuts *). Often in such paintings or col- 
oured plastics, with the Virgin wearing a red gown under a blue cloak, it 
seems the artist wishes to express the grace of heaven, descending upon 
an earthly being; by submerging the human through the divine. 

*) With many colourful excuses, this combination was used by Frank Brangwin in his 
early paintings. 

76 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

This definition of our harmony logically proves the inner necessity which 
"today" particularly requires a vast arsenal in possibilities of expression. 

Acknowledged or disproved combinations, the collisions of different col- 
ours, the extinguishing of one colour by another or many colours by one, 
the evolution of one from the other, the precise location of the colour 
spot, the dissolution of one or many, marked boundaries to dissolve 
colours, their over-flow of such binding design, the mingling, a sharp sepa- 
ration, open infinities of purely artistic (colour] possibilities. 

A departure from the objective, and one of the first steps into the realm 
of abstraction was, (to use a technical, artistic term), the rejection of the 
third dimension, the attempt to keep a "picture" on a single plane as a 
painting. Modeling was abandoned and the material object, for the first 
time, became abstract, representing an advancement. With the immediate 
result of condensing the possibilities of a painting to one definite piece of 
canvas, and with this to the material part of the painting, it has curtailed 
its possibilities. 

The attempt to free oneself from this material side and its limitations, to- 
gether with the striving for composition, naturally lead to a renunciation 
of one single surface. An effort was made to bring the painting out on an 
ideal surface which projects itself in front of the material surface of 
the canvas *). Thus, there has arisen out of the composition with flat tri- 
angles one with plastic three dimensional triangles, that is, with pyramids 
(the so-called Cubism). Very soon there arose the tendency to inertia 
which concentrated on this particular form and led to an impoverishment 
of possibilities. That is the unavoidable result of the external application 
of any principle born by inner necessity. 

In this very important case, there are also other means of retaining the 
material surface while creating an ideal one, and establishing the latter 

*) For example, see the article by Le Fauconnier in the Catalogue for the I! Exhibit 
of the "Neue Kuenstlervereinigung," Munich, 1910-191 1. 

77 



THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR 

not only as a flatness, but also utilizing it as a three-dimensional space. 
Already the thinness or thickness of a line or, placing the form upon the 
surface, or the over-lapping of one form by another, will suffice as ex- 
amples of artistic means that may be employed in using the space. Simi- 
lar means are offered by colour, which, when properly used, can advance 
or retreat, urge forward or backward and can make a living entity of 
the picture, thus achieving an artistic expansion of space. 

The combination of both means of extension, in the counterpoint of ton- 
ality, is one of the richest and mightiest elements of design and colour 
composition. 



78 




VII 
THEORY 



Due to the nature of our modern conception of harmony, it follows that, 
at no time, has it been more difRcult to formulate a complete theory*) 
or to lay down a firm artistic general basis, than it is today. Such attempts 

*) Such attempts were made. Here we owe much to the parallel with music, for 
example, "Tendances Nouvelles," No. 35, Henri Ravel — "The laws of harmony for 
painting and music are the same." p. 721. 

79 



THEORY 

would equal results as the previously cited case of Leonardo da Vinci's 
little spoons. Claiming there could not be any definite rules in painting; or 
principles considered as a general basis; or saying this would inevitably 
lead to academism would be too hasty. Even music has its grammar 
which, like all living things, changes with the passing of time and, yet, on 
the other hand, can be continuously used as a valuable aid, more or less 
as one uses a dictionary. 

Painting today, however, is in a different position; its emancipation 
from a direct dependency on nature is in its very first stages. When colour 
and form were used as inner agents, this was done subconsciously. The sub- 
jection of a composition to geometric form was already employed in an- 
cient art, for example, by the Persians. However, building on a purely spir- 
itual basis is a tedious process, which, at first, begins rather blindly and aim- 
lessly. Here, the painter must train not only his eye but also his soul, so that 
he learns to weigh colour not only by perceiving exterior impressions or 
some times inward ones, but also by utilizing it as definite power in his 
creations. 

If we were to begin to sever the bonds which bind us to nature, striving 
to achieve freedom by force, devote ourselves exclusively to combina- 
tion of pure colour and absolute form, we would produce works of equal 
artistic value as geometric ornamentation on neck ties or carpets. 
Beauty of form and colour: (despite the assertion of such pure aesthetics 
and even naturalists, who mainly claim "beauty" is not a sufficient goal 
in art.) Because of the elementary stage painting has attained today, we 
are not yet fully able to grasp the inner appeal of a truly emancipated 
colour and form composition.) The nerve-vibration may be there, (such as 
we would experience in applied art), but it goes no further than the nerves, 
because the corresponding vibrations of the spirit and appeal to the soul 
are too weak to be felt. However, a spiritual turn Is speeding us on almost 
violently, even sweeping off that "supremely firm" basis of human spiritual 
life, called positive science, now opening the doors to the dissolution of 

80 



THEORY 

matter equally it can be said that only a few "hours" separate us fronn 
this absolute composition. 

As a being, not entirely lifeless, ornamentation has its inner life which 
either is no longer comprehensible to us (ancient) or mere illogical confu- 
sion, as a world in which grown men and embryoes are treated on an equal 
basis to play the same social role, where beings deprived of limbs are on 
the same plane as isolated noses, toes and navels. The confusion is similar 
to that of a kaleidoscope *) where the material coincidence but not the 
spirit is the originator. Yet, despite our lack of understanding and inability 
to comprehend, ornamentation has its effect on us **). Oriental ornamen- 
tation is essentially different from the Swedish, Negro, or ancient Greeks. 
Generally, not without reason, patterns are described as gay, serious, sad, 
lively by using musical terms such as allegro, serloso, grave, vivace. While 
ornamentation may have had its start through nature, its motives have 
been taken from meadows or forests. Assuming no other source than 
visible nature was used, natural objects and colours were treated not exter- 
nally but symbolically. For this reason, they gradually became incompre- 
hensible, no longer deciphering their real value. A Chinese dragon, for 
example, which, in its ornamental form, has retained much of its original 
object, has so little effect on us, that we can as easily bear it In our dining 
rooms or bedrooms as a doily embroidered with daisies. Toward the 
close of the epoch now beginning, a new art craft of ornamentation may 
develop, but it will hardly consist of geometrical forms. However, an at- 
tempt today to force ornamentation would be like hastening a bud by 
pulling its petals apart. 

As we are still tightly bound to nature's exterior, we find our forms 
there. The entire question is how may we accomplish this? How far does 
our liberty permit us to alter these forms, and what colours may we com- 

*) This confusion, of course, is also as precise as life though fronn another sphere. 

**) The world just described is a world with its own definite inner harmony, which, in 
principle, is a basic necessity and offers some possibilities. 

81 



THEORY 

bine? This may go as far as the feeling of the artist goes. From this view- 
point, we can recognize the endless necessity of cultivating such feeling. 

A few examples will answer the second part of this question. The warm 
red, always stimulating when individually observed, will alter materially its 
inner value when no longer isolated, remaining as something abstract 
tonality when used as an element its own through combination with a 
natural form. Uniting red with various natural forms will result in different 
spiritual effects, which, in spite of the isolated value of red, will retain a 
relative sound. Let us combine this red with the sky, flowers, a dress, face, 
horse, or tree. A red sky suggesting a sunset, a fire, creates a so-called 
"natural" reaction, solemn if not threatening. Of course, the manner in 
which other objects are combined with this red sky, is of consequence. 
Should the treatment be faithful to nature and combined with colours 
true to nature, the naturalistic appeal of the sky is even greater. If, how- 
ever, the other objects be removed from nature, they can weaken, if not 
destroy, the "naturalistic" impression of such sky. Much the same applies 
to the use of red for a face, as an expression of emotional irritation on 
the part of the painted figure, or explained by certain lighting. Any such 
effect can be destroyed only by extreme abstraction in the rest of the 
picture. 

On the other hand, red in a garment is quite a different matter, since 
a garment can be of any desired colour. Such a red, however, supplies a 
pictorial asset, since it has no direct association to any materialistic aims. 
However, a mutual effect is created here in the combination of the red 
of the dress, as of the figure. 

If, for example, the tone of the entire painting is melancholy and its tonal- 
ity concentrated on the red-cloaked figure by the position of the figure's 
composition, its movement, facial expression, posture of head, or colour 
of face, then the red of the dress creates a mental discord and emphasizes 
a certain sadness evolving from the painting and, in particular, from the 
main character. Use of another colour, in itself sad, would certainly weaken 

82 



THEORY 

the effect by diminishing the dramatic element *). Again, we have the 
previous example of the antithesis. The dramatic element here is created 
by the inclusion of red in the entire melancholy composition, because red, 
once fully isolated, that is, reflected on the silent mirror of the soul, can- 
not have a sad effect on the observer **). 

It is different when the same red is used for a tree. The fundamental ton- 
ality of red in cases mentioned remains the same. The association of 
autumn creeps in ("autumn" as a spiritual conception, real, abstract, non- 
objective or objective). The colour fully combines with the object, and 
continues as an isolated element, without any such dramatic clash, as in 
the case of the red garment. 

Still, a red horse provides an entirely different case. Even the sound of 
these words projects us into another atmosphere. The utter impossibility 
of a red horse, if placed before us, demands an equally unnatural back- 
ground. Otherwise, the entire effect can be taken for a freak (superficial 
and completely inartistic) or as a clumsy fairy-tale ***), that is, a freak 
originated by a purpose through an inner, artistic appeal. A plain, natural- 
istic landscape, and anatomically-drawn figures would be too great a dis- 
cord if combined with such a horse; all appeal as well as coherence de- 
stroyed. Consequently, there would be no possibility of combining the 
two. What is understood by this "dependency" or what it might be, is evi- 
dent from a definition of modern harmony. Therefore, it is possible to 
divide the surfaces and build up all sorts of exterior relationships, while the 
inner freed om will still remain the same. The elements of the plc- 

*) It must be clearly emphasized, that all such cases are considered only as sche- 
matic values. All this is conventional and can be altered through the great effect 
ol the composition as easily, by changing one line. Such possibilities are infinite. 

**) Expressions such as "sad," "joyful," are very superficial and serve only as guides 
to finer non-objective spiritual vibrations. 

***) If the fairy-tale is not exactly and fully "translated," its effect is similar to that of 
a cinematographic film of a fairy-tale. 

83 



THEORY 

ture's construction are not derived from superficial ties but from its inner 
necessity. In such cases, the observer is only too eager to detect a "mean- 
ing," found in the outer connection, between the component parts of a 
picture. Again, the materialistic period of our entire life as a whole, as in 
art, arrived in educating the spectator to face a picture for its own sake 
(particularly if he is connoisseur of art) and to note all sorts of things in 
the search of imitations of nature, nature seen through the artist's temper- 
ament, sentimentality, "painting," anatomy, perspective, exterior senti- 
ment. He does not even attempt to feel the inner life of the picture itself, 
or allow it to exercise any direct effect on him. Blinded by technical skill, 
his spiritual eye does not discern the deeper message through such a 
medium. When we carry on a conversation with a scintillating person, we 
endeavor to peer into his soul, we search for his inner being, probe his 
thoughts and feelings. We do not remind ourselves that his words consist 
of letters; the letters are simply a collection of suitable sounds and their 
pronunciation requires Inhaling air into the lungs (antomlcal detail] fol- 
lowed by exhaling, as well as certain movements and contortions of the 
tongue, lips, and other parts. This, in turn, causes vibration of the air 
(physics) which then through our ear-drum reaches our consciousness (psy- 
chological sequence) affecting our nerves (physiology). We know, that all 
these things are unimportant aspects of our conversation, that they are 
coincidental and represent the exterior means, while the truly im p o r - 
tant part in conversation is conveying ideas, feelings, and 
emotions. We should observe a painting with the same valuation in mind 
and receive a direct absolute effect from the work of art. When the pos- 
sibility of speaking through artistic means will be developed, it will be- 
come superfluous to borrow forms from the exterior world for spiritual 
expression, while today this offers us a possibility, by using form and colour 
and will enable us to increase or decrease their inner value. The contrast 
(such as the red garment in the sad composition) can have an infinitely 
strong effect but must remain, in its entirety, on one and the same moral 
plane. 

However, the existence of this plane does not entirely solve the problem 
84 



THEORY 

of colour. The "unnaturalistic" objects and their colours may achieve a lit- 
erary appeal, in which case the composition assumes the effect of a fairy- 
tale. This result imposes upon the spectator an atmosphere which he ac- 
cepts, because it is magical, and in which he proceeds: I . to search for the 
fable, 2. to become unsusceptible, or scarcely susceptible to the effective- 
ness of the colour's inner appeal. In any event, a primary reaction to colour 
is no longer possible. The exterior outweighs it by far. Man, in general, 
avoids depth of thinking by preferring things requiring less exertion. In 
fact, there is "nothing deeper than superficiality," though it is the depth 
of the swamp. No other artist's skill is accepted so readily as plastic 
make-believe. Once the observer believes himself to be in a fairy-land no 
sooner does his soul become immune to any strong vibrations. Thus, the 
real aim of a work of art is void. Therefore, a form is needed, which, at 
once, excludes a fairy-tale's effect *), and, secondly, in no way, restricts 
the power of colour. Form, movement, and colour, taken from nature 
(realistic or not), must not avoid an outward effect or any hindrance, which 
an objective narrative dominates. The less the movement is motivated ex- 
ternally or intellectually, the purer, deeper, and more spiritual will 
become its effect. 

A simple movement whose purpose is known reveals itself as mysterious 
and solemn. Yet, as long as we do not know the practical purpose of this, 
its effect is harmonious. A simple, mutual task has an obscure, dramatic, 
and overpowering effect as though we are contemplating a vision of life 
on a different plane, until suddenly the magic disappears and the practical 
fulfillment of the intended task hits us. An unmotivated movement carries 
tremendous possibilities. Such scenes strike us, when we are absorbed in 
abstract thoughts. They transfer our thoughts from the practical, mun- 
dane affairs of life. Therefore, the observation of such movements outside 
the circle of practical evidence is possible. However, no sooner do we 

*) This struggle with magic reminds one of the struggle with nature. How easily 
against the colour composer's wish, "nature" forces its way into his work, as it is 
easier, by far, to paint nature than to fight its dominance. 

85 



THEORY 

ponder about the impossibility of anything inexplicable may occur in our 
streets, our interest in movement immediately disappears. The realiza- 
tion of the practical purpose of the movement destroys its abstract 
appeal. 

On this principle, the "new dance" should and will be built as the only 
means of giving importance and inner meaning of motion, in terms of 
time and space. The origin of the dance is of a sexual nature. We 
detect these elements in fofk dances, still the necessity, of utilizing dances 
for religious ceremonies (means of inspiration} remains on the surface in 
the exploration of movement. Gradually, these two practical utilizations 
became enriched with an artistic note, which had developed through the 
centuries, ending with ballet movements. Today this language is com- 
prehensible to a few, while losing more and more in clarity. Aside from 
this, it is far too naive for the coming times, since it only serves the ex- 
pression of material feelings such as love and fear; therefore, it must 
be replaced by another, which is capable of arousing finer spiritual vibra- 
tions. For this reason, the dance reformers of our time turned their 
thoughts to past form expressions, where they continue to seek aid. Thus, 
Isadora Duncan used the Greek dance as a basis for the interpretative 
dance of the future. This happened for the same reason that motivated 
the painters in seeking aid from the Primitives. Of course, in painting 
as in the dance, this was a transitional period. In creating our new dances, 
the very same law of implicit utilization of the inner sense of move- 
ment, as the main element of dancing, will be effective. Too, the con- 
ventional beauty of movement must be overthrown, and the "natural" 
process (narrative — literary element) must be abandoned as useless and 
ultimately disturbing. As no "dissonant notes" exist in music, nor in paint- 
ing "inharmony," in these two art expressions every sound, whether har- 
mony or discord, is beautiful (appropriate), if it results from inner need. 
The inner value of each and every movement will soon be felt, as the 
inner beauty replaces the sensuous aspect. Thus, "ugly" movements sud- 
denly appear beautiful, from which an undreamed power and vital force 
will burst forth instantly. This will start the dance of the future. 

86 



THEORY 



The dance of the future, which is placed on one level with present day's 
music and painting, then attains the ability to create stage composition 
as a third element, becoming the first creation of the monumental 
art. 

The stage composition will consist of the following three elements: 

1. Musical movement 

2. Pictorial movement 

3. Artistic dance movement 

Regarding pictorial composition, anyone will understand the triple effect 
of the inner movement (stage composition). As the two main elements in 
painting (design and painted form, each leading an independent exist- 
ence and expressed through their individual, personal means,) combine 
these elements with their many qualities and possibilities, the composition 
in painting is created, in such a manner that on the stage it uses the three 
mentioned effects, to make the counterpoint of movement possible. 

As previously mentioned, Scriabine's attempt to intensify the effect of 
the musical tone through the effect of the corresponding colour tone is, of 
course, an elementary attempt presenting one possibility. Besides the har- 
mony of two or three elements in stage composition, the counter play of 
alternating effects in the use of various elements, or presentation of the 
single individuality of the exterior completion of each element, may be 
employed. The latter technique has been applied by Arnold Schoenberg 
in his Quartettes. 

There we may realize the inner harmony's gain in power and significance, 
when outward harmony is used in the sense of contrast. Imagine the hap- 
piness in a world with three such mighty elements which serve creative 
aim. Yet, I am forced to refrain from further development of this impor- 
tant idea. By applying the principle used in painting the visionary eye will 
automaticaly realize the happy stage of the future. The tortuous roads in 
this new realm may enmesh the pioneer, take him through dark primeval 

87 



THEORY 

forests, amidst bottomless chasms, past mighty precipices, up to snow 
clad heights, but with it all, unerringly the guide leads to the principles of 
inner need. 

Concerning our previous research for comparison in the application of 
colour, or the necessity and importance of natural forms with colour dem- 
onstrating tonal effect, it can be derived: 

1 . Where lies the road to painting 

2. How to follow this road in general principle. 

The path lies between two possibilities, equally dangerous. For one, the 
entirely abstracted use of colour in geometrical form (ornamentive), and 
second, the more realistic but paralyzed use of colour (phantasy). There 
exists a possibility of over-stepping the right border as well as 
the danger of over-reaching in the opposite direction. Behind these 
border-lines, and leaving behind schematic theory, we find, to the right, 
the absolute abstraction (further than any geometric form), and, to 
the left, Intense realism (phantasy in its sharpest materialistic sense). 
Between these two lies the boundless freedom, depth, width, and wealth of 
possibility in the field of pure abstraction and absolute realism. Ours is 
the day of liberty only conceivable at times in the rise of a great epoch 
*). At the same time, this freedom is one of the greatest dependencies 
because all these possibilities between the boarders develop from the 
same root, the persistent cry of the inner necessity (or the need for enter- 
ing the cosmic law). 



*) In connection with this question, see my article "On the Problem of Form" in 
the "Blaue Relter" (publishers R. Piper & Co., 1912). Starting with the work of Henri 
Rousseau, we prove that the coming realism Is not only equivalent, but even Identical, 
with abstraction, the realism of the visionary. 

88 



THEORY 

That art is above nature is certainly no new discovery *). New principles 
do not tall from heaven but are connected with the past and future. At 
present, what is the position of the principle and where will it get us to- 
morrow? Such a principle, repeated over and over, should never be used 
forcibly. If the artist tunes his soul to this note, his work will resound its 
echo. "Emancipation" is born of inner necessity, which, as already men- 
tioned, is the spiritual power behind the objective creation of art. The 
intention of art manifests itself today with a forceful intensity. That is to 
say, present-day forms are dissolved to express the objective more clear- 
ly. As natural forms create boundaries, they often constitute an impedi- 
ment to expression. Therefore, the objective in the form must 
be set aside to free the space for the purpose of constructing the compo- 
sition. This explains the general impulse to develop the constructive forms 
of the epoch. Cubism, as one of the transitory stages, has often demon- 
strated how natural forms are dissolved for constructive purposes and 
what unessential obstacles these realistic forms are in presenting them- 
selves. 

The general revelation of construction seems to be the sole possibility 
of expressing the form beyond the objective inspiration. However, if we 
bear in mind how modern harmony has been defined in this book, we rec- 
ognize the spirit of our time in the realm of construction, not as a clear 

*) Literature has particularly, and since long ago, expressed this principle. Goethe, 
for example, says: "The artist with a free spirit stands above nature and can treat it 
according to his higher aims. He is its master and slave at the same time. He is its 
slave insofar as he has to operate with earthly means in order to be understood. 
It is his master, however, insofar as he subjects these earthly means to his higher 
intentions and utilizes them for this purpose. The artist wants to speak to the world 
through an entity: He does not find this entity in nature but rather as the fruit of 
his own spirit, or, if we wish to express it thus, in the breath born of divine power." 
(Karl Heinemann, Goethe, 1899, page 684). In our time, Oscar Wilde: "Art Begins 
Where Nature Ends." (De Profundis). Also, painters, often use such ideas, Delacroix, 
for instance, says that nature is only a dictionary for the artist and "realism should be 
defined as the antipode of art." (My Diary, page 246, Bruno Cassierer, publisher, 
Berlin, 1903). 

89 



THEORY 

"geometric" construction, which is immediately noticeable, rich in possi- 
bilities and expressive, but as an inscrutable one, which inadvertently lifts 
itself beyond the painting; and which, therefore, is meant less for the eye 
than for the soul. This hidden construction may arise from an inci- 
dental selection of forms displayed on a canvas, as the forms have no 
connection with one another. The external lack of connection here con- 
stitutes its internal existence. What is loosened externally is here con- 
solidated inwardly. This continues to apply equally to both elements in 
designed or painted form. 

This is the future of counterpoint in painting. Somehow, the related forms 
in their final analysis have a great and precise relation to each other. 
Finally, this relation can be expressed in a mathematical form, as the 
irregular rather than the regular figures seem to count. The figura- 
tive remains as the final abstract expression in 
any art. 

This objective element demands the cooperative power of reason 
in the conscious objective knowledge of the artistic basis of counter- 
point in painting. This objective will give the creative work of today the 
possibility in the future, to proclaim "I am" instead of "I was." 



90 




VIII 

ART AND ARTISTS 



In an obscure and puzzling way, the artist develops a work of art. As it 
gains a life of its own, it becomes an entity, an independent spiritual 
life, which as a being, leads the life of material realism. It is, therefore, 
not simply a phenomenon created casually and Inconsequentially indif- 
ferent to spiritual life. Instead as a living being, it possesses creative 
active forces. It lives, has power, and actively forms the above-mentioned 
spiritual atmosphere. From an innermost point of view, the question finally 
should be answered as to whether creation is strong or weak. If too 
weak in its form, it is impotent to cause any kind of spiritual vibration *). 

*) The so-called "indecent" works are either incapable of causing a spiritual vibration 
(in which case, according to our definition they are not artistic), or they do cause a 
spiritual virbration, if, in some way, they possess the proper form. Then, their result is 
"good." If, however, aside from this spiritual vibration, they create a purely bodily 
vibration of lower taste (as we term it today), we should conclude that it is the work 
which should be spurned, instead of the person, who reacts to such low vibrations. 

91 



ART AND ARTISTS 



In realify, no picture can be considered "well painted" if it possesses 
only correct tone values (the unavoidable "valeurs" of the French). One 
should call a picture well painted if it possesses the fullness of life. A 
"perfect drav/ing" is the one where nothing can 
be changed without destroying the essential 
inner life, quite irrespective of whether this drawing contradicts our 
conception of anatomy, botany, or other sciences. The question is not 
whether the coincidental outer form is violated, but only, if its quality de- 
pends on the artist's need of certain forms irrespective of reality's pat- 
tern. Likewise, colours should be used not because they are true to nature 
but only because the colour harmony is required by the paint- 
ings individually. The artist is not only justified 
in using any form necessary for his purposes, 
but it is his very duty to do so. Neither anatomical 
correctness nor any basic overthrow of scientific statements are neces- 
sary, only the artist's unlimited freedom in the selection of his means*). 
His need provides the right to unlimited liberty, which at once would 
prove inorganic were it not based on freedom. Artistically, its rightful 
use is its aforementioned innermost moral evidence, which constitutes its 
pure aim not only of art but also of life. 

A faint adherence to scientific precepts is never as damaging as their 
equally purposeless overthrow. In the former case, an imitation of nature's 
material objects is created, which may be used for various specific pur- 
poses **). The last instance produces an artistic betrayal, which can have 
grave consequences. The former leaves the moral atmosphere void and 
petrifies it, while the latter creates a poisonous infection. 

*) This unlimited freedom must be based on inner necessity (which is called honesty). 
This is not only the principle of art but of life. This principle is the great sword of 
the superman with which he fights the Philistines. 

**) This imitation of nature is created by the hand of an artist possessing a spiritual 
life of his own. It never could be a completely lifeless reproduction of life. In this 
form, the soul can speak and be heard. As a contrast, one may quote landscapes by 
Canaletto and those sadly famous heads by Danner, (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). 

92 



ART AND ARTISTS 



Painting as an art Is not some vague projection into space but a power, 
so strong and full of purpose that it serves the refinement of the soul, 
(the movement of the triangle). It is its language which speaks to the soul. 

If artists avert this task, a chasm remains unbridged, and there is no 
power entitled to take the place of art *). Inevitably, while the human 
soul will gain in strength, art too will increase its vitality since both are 
inextricably connected and complimentary to each other. Periodically, 
when the soul suffocates, downridden by the intrusion of materialistic 
disbelief and low ambitions, there promptly arises the fallacy that "pure" 
art is not bestowed upon man for special purposes but purposelessly exists 
only as "art for art's sake," ("L'art pour I'art")**). Thus, the bond between 
art and the soul is drugged into unconsciousness. In this case, retribution 
follows swiftly, as the artist and the spectator (whose bonds are purely 
spiritual) cease to comprehend each other and the spectator turns his 
back on the artist, who is admired merely for his skill and inventiveness. 

In such an event, the artist should modify his position by recognizing 
his duty towards art and towards his spiritual self, In find- 
ing himself not only the master of a situation, but a servant of the highest 
whose duties are precise, great, and holy. He develops and searches his 
Innermost soul and molds it Into an entity. 

The artist should have a message to convey; 
mere mastery of form should not be his goal, 
but rather the adaptation of form to inner con- 
tentment ***). 

*) This chasm can easily be filled with poisonous pestilence. 

**) This opinion is an unconscious protest against materialism, which demands that 
everything be practical and have a purpose. It proves the strength and permanence 
of art and of the human soul, eternal and eternally alive, which can be bent but not 
broken, stunned but never destroyed. 

***) I speak here of the evolution of the soul, not forcibly endowing every work of art 

93 



ART AND ARTISTS 



The artist is not born to a life of ease and pleasure, with the right to live 
idly avoiding all arduous duty. Seriously, he performs a task which can 
prove to be his cross. Every deed, feeling, and thought form the untouch- 
able, solid material from which his work emanates. For that reason, his 
freedom is not in living but in art. The artist has a triple responsibifity 
in comparison to the layman: I. he must repay the talent given him; 2. 
his deeds, thoughts, and feelings, as concern all men, must create a 
spiritual atmosphere according to their nature; 3. these deeds, thoughts, 
and feelings are the artistic tools for his creations which, in turn, exercise 
influence on the spiritual atmosphere. In reality, the artist is a "king," 
as Sar Peladan called him, not because of equally heavy duties, but be- 
cause of the power accorded him. 

If the artist is the priest of "beauty," then this beauty is pursued accord- 
ing to the same principle of inner value that we have found else- 
where. This "beauty" is measured according to greatness and inner 
need, which, so far, have rendered us unerringly correct service *). 

with a conscious meaning, or cloaking, 'volens nolens," the inventive content in artistic 
expression. If so, the mental work would be conceived lifeless and dead. As pre- 
viously mentioned, the creation of the true work of art is a mystery beyond compre- 
hension. The artist's soul, when alive and vital, needs no assistance from various 
theories or cerebrations. It has something of its own to convey, even, at the moment, 
utterly incomprehensible to the artist. The inner voice of the soul points out the 
form he needs and where to obtain it, from exterior or inner 'nature.' Every artist 
who works from the so-called "feeling," knows with what suddenness and unexpected- 
ness he often perceives the wrong sound of some form previously evolved, and how 
"automatically" the correct one comes to replace it. Boecklin said, "The real work of 
art must be as a vast improvisation," That necessitates construction and contempla- 
tion. Also, previous compositions should not serve as preliminary steps to the achieve- 
ment of a goal, which may be revealed quite unexpectedly to the artist. In such a 
way, the future use of counterpoint is understood. 

*) By this beauty, I do not mean the outer or inner beauty of the general concept of 
morals but all which purifies and enriches the soul in its inviolable form. For this 
reason, every colour is inwardly beautiful in painting because every colour creates a 
spiritual vibration and every vibration enriches the soul. Everything can 

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ART AND ARTISTS 



That is to be considered beautiful which results 
from an inner spiritual need, as only that which 
is spiritual can be beautiful. 

Maeterlinck, one of the first pioneers and truly modern composers, that 
artist of the soul, ever striving for the art of tomorrow, said: "There is 
nothing on earth that yearns more for beauty, or is so susceptible to it, 
than the soul . . ., and, it is for that reason, that few human souls withstand 
the leadership of another devoted to the service of beauty." *). 

This quality of the soul is the oil which facilitates the slow, scarcely visible 
yet ceaseless, untiring motion of the spiritual triangle, ever forward and 
upward. 




be spiritually beautiful though outwardly ugly. In art as in life nothing is "ugly" 
spiritually that has its effect on the soul. 

*) Of inner beauty. (K. Robert Langewieshe publishers, Duesseldorf and Leipzig. 
Page 187), 

95 



CONCLUSION 



The first seven reproductions included are examples of the constructive 
efforts in painting. Their form divides them into two main groups: 

I. The simple composition, v^hich is subject to an obvious simple form. 
This kind of composition, I call the melodic. 

2. The involved composition, consisting of various forms, v/hich are 
subjected more or less clearly to the principle form. While this main 
form may be hard to grasp outwardly, it gives to the inner basis 
its very strong appeal. This composition, I call the symphonic. 

Between these two main groups lie various transitional form-elements, 
in which the melodic principle definitely predominates. 

The entire process of development is strikingly similar to music. Devia- 
tions in these two procedures are the results of another law, the contrast 
of which has always been subjected to the first intention in development. 
For this reason, these deviations are not of consequential importance. 

If the objective is removed from the melodic composition, 
revealing the basic artistic form, one discovers primitive geometric forms 
or an arrangement of simple lines, which serve as common movement. 
This is repeated in various sections and may be varied at times by single 
lines or forms. These, in the latter instance, serve different purposes, as 
for example, they form a kind of control to which I shall give the musical 

96 



CONCLUSION 



name "-fermata" *). All of these constructive forms have a simple inner 
value like every melody. It is, for this reason, that I call the composition 
melodic. 

Brought to light by Cezanne and later by Hodler, these melodic com- 
positions, in our time, are designated as "r h y t h m i c." That was the 
core of resurrection of the compositional aims. The restriction of this 
term, "r h y t h m i c," is an obvious limitation. Though in music each 
construction has its own rhythm, and, as in the "accidental" distribution 
of things in nature, some rhythmic law always prevails, painting alike has 
its rhythm. In nature this rhythm Is sometimes not evident to us, because 
its aims are not evident. This non-apparent compilation is, therefore, 
called unrhythmlc. The division Into the rhythmic and the unrhythmlc is 
relative and conventional like a division between harmony and discord, 
which does not exist **). 

Complicated rhythmic compositions, with a strong flavor of the sym- 
phonic principle, are seen In numerous paintings, wood-cuts, and minia- 
tures of past epochs In art. One might mention here the work of old 
German masters, the Persians, the Japanese, the Russian Icons, and 
Broadsides ***). 

In nearly all these works, the symphonic composition is still very closely 
related to the melodic. This means that on removing the objective ele- 
ment and unveiling the compositional it creates a feeling of repose, quiet 

*) See, for example, the Ravenna Mosaic (page 101) which, in its entirety, forms a 
triangle. Less and less obviously the remaining figures lean towards this triangle, 
while the outstretched arm and the door curtain are the fermata. 

**) As an example of this clear melodic construction with plain rhythm, Cezanne's 
"Bathing Women" is reproduced in this book. 

***) Many of Hodler's pictures are melodic compositions with a definite symphonic 
inclination. 

97 



CONCLUSION 



repetition, almost equally distributed *). Involuntarily, there connes to 
mind the old choral compositions or those of Bach and Beethoven. 

All these works are related to the quiet, solemn, and dignified architec- 
ture of Gothic cathedrals. Balance and equal distribution of the individual 
part is the tuning fork and spiritual basis of such creations. Such works 
belong to the transitional period. 

As an example of those new symphonic compositions in which the melodic 
elements, (while employed only at times, or as a subordinate part), re- 
ceive simultaneously a new shape, I have included reproductions of my 
own works which are of three different sources of inspiration: 

1. A direct impression of "outward nature," which is expressed in pure 
artistic form. These pictures I call "impression s." (See page 1 10.) 

2. Intuitive, for the greater part spontaneous expressions of incidents 
of an inner character, or impressions of the "inner nature," this kind 
I call "improvisation s." (See pages 1 1 i end 1 13.) 

3. With slowly evolved feelings, which have formed within me for a 
long time, and tested pedantically, developed after they were in- 
tuitively conceived. This kind of picture I call "composition s." 
Reason, consciousness, purpose, and adequate law play an overwhelm- 
ing part. Yet, it is not to be thought of as a mere calculation, since 
feeling is the decisive factor. (Seepages 108, 109, 117, 123.) 

*) Tradition plays a great part. This is particularly the esse in national art. Such 
works are created mainly at the height of a cultural period, frequently reaching into 
the next. The unfurled, open blossom spreads an atmosphere of inner quietude. At 
the time of birth and ripening, there is too much collision, fighting, impeding elements 
for rest to form an obviously predominant part. In the final analysis, of course, every 
serious work is quiet. This latter quietude (dignity), however, is not easy for a con- 
temporary to detect. Every serious work inwardly sounds like a quiet, dignified 
spoken word: "Here I am." Love or hate towards the work of art evaporates and is 
dissolved. The sound of these words is eternal. 

98 



CONCLUSION 



Conscious or unconscious constructions underlying all three categories 
of my paintings will be evident to the patient reader of this book. 

Finally, I wish to state that we are fast approaching the time of conscious 
composition, when the painter's reason prides Itself to explain his work 
constructively, (contrary to the accidental Impressionists, whose 
main pride it was, that they could not explain anything). We have before 
us the age of conscious creation with which the spiritual in painting will 
be allied organically; with the gradual forming structure of the new spiritual 
realm, as this spirit Is the soul of this epoch of great spirituality. 




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SHORT SURVEY, COVERING FORTY YEARS 
OF KANDINSKY'S ARTISTIC EVOLUTION 
FROM 1904 TO 1944 



TUNISIAN SHEEP FESTIVAL 1904 

BLUE MOUNTAIN 1908 

COMPOSITION NO. 2 (oil) 1910 

COMPOSITION NO. 4 (oil) 1910 

IMPRESSION NO. 4 MOSCOW 1911 

IMPROVISATION NO. 18 1911 

IMPROVISATION (in colour) 1912 

SMALL PLEASURES 1913 

Vv'HITE EDGE 1913 

BLACK LINES (in colour) 1913 

COMPOSITION NO. 8 1923 

ABOVE AND LEFT (in colour) 1925 

POINTED AND ROUND (in colour) 1933 

COMPOSITION 678 1940 

AROUND THE LINE 1943 

WELL TEMPERED EMPHASIS 1944 

ISOLATION 1944 



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126 



PUBLIC COMMENTS MADE IN THE MUSEUM OF NON-OBJECTIVE 
PAINTING IN NEW YORK CITY (FROM JANUARY TO APRIL 1946) 
THIRTY-SIX YEARS AFTER KANDINSKY WROTE "ON THE SPIRITUAL 
IN ART." THE COMMENTATORS' NAMES AND ADDRESSES, TO- 
GETHER WITH THEIR REACTIONS, ARE ON RECORD IN THE MU- 
SEUM OF NON-OBJECTIVE PAINTING OWNED BY THE SOLOMON 
R. GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION, NEW YORK CITY. 

"It is as if the artist was God, designing and creating new worlds in His 
own likeness." 

"Non-objective painting is the natural progression of all modern paint- 
ing. Painting has developed in purity of expression and enlarged the 
range of knowledge of its media (and particularly colour); its primary pur- 
pose has changed from that of recording deeds and events for posterity, 
to creating something so beautiful in itself that the human spirit is re- 
vived, expanded, and uplifted by looking at it. It is only as the collec- 
tive mind of many painters has grasped this change that they have been 
free to investigate the potentialities of form, space, and colour. The 
human response to colour and form as phenomena, is as valid and valuable 
as the response to sound, or the emotions invoked by literature. That 
this realization came so late was probably due to the fact that sight, or 
the visual apprehension of objects, was necessarily used in everyday living 
for the solution of practical problems by actions. Sight was subsidiary 
to action and thereby bounded by the petty world cf affairs. Vv'ivh the 
release of mere sight from this constriction It becomes vision, and vision 
both creates and lives in Art." 

"My visits here have become almost a religion with me. I do not under- 
take any project before I commune with these glorious works. These 
paintings give me that necessary lift and courage to begin a new work. 
"Composition No. 8" by Kandinsky is a giant cf strength and beauty. 
Never have I received such assurance about any work in representational 
form. It is the absence of worldly experience which makes Non-objective 

127 



PUBLIC COMMENTS 



painting so decidedly great. I do not think that any other Art form 
could do more to impress me than these pictures do. When I come here, 
a strong desire to share my enjoyment with others comes over me. In 
a way, I do, because I am always talking about your collections and seeing, 
that many of the people I know, come to visit this Museum." 

"When I look at Kandinsky's magnificent painting, 'The White Edge', 
I feel as though I am seeing the genesis of life both in quality (colour and 
texture) and in quantity (form). The swing of movement undulating 
through the colour, the quality in the definition of some forms, in contrast 
to the gentle blending of others, is profoundly moving. The superim- 
posed lines seem to work a counter rhythm over the evolving existence 
and mass. Non-objective painting is capable of giving to man what 
no other kind could, the spiritual principles of the creation and organi- 
zation of matter and the keys of spacial movement and rhythm, that sense 
of order, which the evolving human spirit needs. How could an objective 
painter who never penetrated beneath the superficial extensions of 
matter, portray the essence of life? That is just what Non-objective 
painting can do and does do, as it works more within the discipline and 
ordered relations of colour, space, and form." 

"You may find it strange, but I never did know how to breathe before I 
came to this Museum. To breathe properly, spiritually, with complete 
freedom and realization, so that every breath is an elevation, and at the 
same time, a renewal of life . . . and many people never realize this . . . 
as one of the most important founts of initiation and joy, given by Sod 
to every man. I have long been aware of this problem, have read a 
great deal and studied Yoga, but do you know, despite all my practice 
and concentration, it was not until I came here, that the physical rhythm 
and spiritual realization suddenly came over me, in its fullest meaning. 
The visual experience of these profound paintings made me know with 
my whole being what man is and his relation to God." 

"How wonderful it can be, to be able to commune with a Bauer or a 

128 



PUBLIC COMMENTS 



Kandinsky masterpiece. You sense what it must be like to lose your in- 
tellectual blinders and to have your eyes become visionary. The power 
of the disciples touches you with the sense of the power of their Sod." 

"This is the most beautiful Museum. I am a great art lover from Buenos 
Aires. I have been around the World and to Paris six times, but this 
is the most illuminatingly hung and the compietest showing of Kandinsky 
that I have seen. I was excited by him very early. He is the most won- 
derful painter. I love him." 

"A child's world of colour is part of his whole living scheme, not an iso- 
lated interest or development. It may simply take the form of rhythmic 
pulsations in his movements, but it is of course of much more value to 
discover the way a child is affected by and absorbs a painting when he 
has comparative freedom than when he is prodded, such as when he is 
at school. These Non-objective works, I feel are quite perfect to present 
to these youngsters, to assimilate and enjoy. Because from the view of 
spiritual needs they combine beauty, good taste, common sense, and an 
equally simple and harmonious tonal structure that is necessary to a 
child's growth and rhythmic expression. The Rebays and Kandinskys 
are the most expressive and pleasureable I've found because of their 
harmony and the creative response they evoke from the children." 

"About three years ago I began to feel dissatisfied with my work as a 
sculptor. Stone animals and portraits become monotonous. Each new 
subject was only a technical problem to be solved. I knew I wanted to 
create but that little of my own force, or vitality could be expressed 
while doing this type of thing. My search for a new creative outlet 
was accompanied by an increasing sense of futility, of never being able 
to find a personal media. One day I saw a reproduction of Kandinsky's 
'Rigid and Bent,' and I recognized in it the immediacy and directness 
of emotional rhythms for which I had been looking. Working in stone is 
only physically hard, in contrast to the different problems of delicate, 
treacherous balancing a painting. Now I work four to six hours a day 

129 



PUBLIC COMMENTS 



on my canvases. I feel that I am searching and finding things in a world 
that I had only felt must exist because my need for it was so great. I 
always come to the Museum when I feel discouraged. The power and 
precision of the Bauers, the warm flowing richness of the Kandinslcys 
give me new courage and teach me to see with a fresh vision." 

"Art is a most important function of the human soul. Everyone needs 
it and is capable of it. It allows man to utilize his creative and imagina- 
tive elements, and Non-objective painting gives the greatest freedom to 
this side of man's nature. Non-objective painting has restored to the 
canvas its original purity of space, freed from the artificial horizon, which 
bears no relation to the beautifully proportioned, linear canvas-space. 
And in doing this, Non-objective painters have gained much greater 
depth of distance than the superficial three-dimensional one, which they 
have abandoned. They have found the eternal distance of perfect 
form in limitless space. The depth of the spirit, which looks at the paint- 
ing is no longer bounded by a false horizon." 

"At first I did not like 'Composition No. 8' by Kandinsky, but almost 
in spite of myself I was fascinated by it, and after prolonged concen- 
tration, I discovered that although it may not have the lyrical quality 
of that masterpiece, 'The White Edge,' there is a wealth of rhythm that 
is continually grasping and eluding the vision. To think I could ever 
have felt it was cold geometry! After a transformation such as I un- 
derwent, the initial impression is so understandable. I think this Museum 
has a distinctive purpose, which is in line with progressiveness in other 
fields, such as science. The human spirit has been gaining freedom 
through the millions of years man has existed, and this Museum shows 
its greatest advance through painting. The modern era is wonderful, 
and I think it is of the utmost importance that such a place as this exists." 

"My work lies in the field of occupational therapy, and I realize to work 
well with mentally ill people, I must have a constant renewal of my own 
sources of vitality, and continual contact with Art so that my patients 

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PUBLIC COMMENTS 



can feel a great spontaneity of spirit and health. It so happens that paint- 
ing, more than music or literature, affects nne. My present position is with 
the American Red Cross and this is the first time I have ever been near 
enough to New York to come here. You cannot imagine with what excite- 
ment I awaited my first trips to the Art museums. Yet, I was sadly disap- 
pointed. All these famous paintings ! had heard about and those things 
I had expected would move me so intensely, seemed almost uninterest- 
ing. Yet, today is the most beautiful day I have ever spent. I can- 
not express to you the ecstasy in which this afternoon has passed. You 
don't know how much it means to me, to have found the Cathedral where 
my spirit can worship freely, and constantly come away newly balanced 
and inspired, to face my daily work. I wish I could express the reverence 
I feel and my gratitude to the people who make such a place as this pos- 
sible." 

"I have attended many Art classes, but was basically dissatisfied. It 
was not until I came here that I realize why. The power of colour and form 
in these paintings is so much greater than anything I have seen before, 
and within the discipline that properly belongs to the ordering of colour, 
form and space, which makes the individual's creative expression so mean- 
ingful. You are going to see a lot of me, because I am sure I will learn 
more from studing these paintings, than from any number of classes or 
instructors." 

"Although my brother is a landscape painter, he was stimulated greatly 
by the paintings of Kandinsky and Bauer as v/ell as the v/orks by the con- 
tributing artists in the Loan Show. His work has taken on a new signifi- 
cance through the contact with Non-objective painting. This Museum 
is so unique, so vibrating with the breath of life, that it should prove a 
haven in the midst of our fast whirling existence. The paintings are very 
exciting in their quiet, clearly defined harmony of colour and design. 
They give me a feeling of completion." 

"Aside from the wonderful inspiration that these paintings give me, this 

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PUBLIC COMMENTS 



Museum is such a tremendous source of pleasure to me that I want all my 
friends to share it with me. Most of my friends are really grateful for 
my acquainting them with Non-objective painting. Each time as I look 
through your catalogue the pictures appear new and fresh. This book 
is invaluable to me." 

"I am particularly concerned in bringing this revelation of aesthetic en- 
joyment of Non-objective painting into the lives of the younger genera- 
tion. My favorite pictures in the collection are 'Animation' by Rebay, 
'Black Lines' and 'The White Edge' by Kandinsky." 

"By not cluttering up my mind with representational painting, I retain 
that beautiful spiritual quality which I receive from Non-objective paint- 
ing. I am extremely happy in my contact with this Museum and Non- 
objective Art." 

"After I came back from the war, I found myself faced with many diffi- 
cult psychological problems. Contact with my former friends somehow 
seemed to be very strained. My brother and I had been very close to each 
other before I had gone overseas, so we both worried about what I should 
do. Nothing appeared to be of any value to me; friends, music, painting, 
all seemed dead. Then he asked me to come to this Museum with him. It 
was like magic. Here was reality, truth, and emotions expressed warmly 
and honestly. It was the beginning of my re-admission to a balanced way 
of life. Something inside of me woke up, and 1 began to see and feel 
again. Since then I have returned many times to this reservoir of strength 
and come away freshened. I am grateful to the people who created this 
Museum, for they have literally given me life." 

"Art must be an integral part of life. It can't be limited to museums. 
Non-objective painting has such a great force that no museum or gallery 
can contain it. Every person who sees these masterpieces will be per- 
manently affected by them. The people who designed this Museum knew 
that. Kandinsky, Bauer, Hilla Rebay, and Mr. Guggenheim to me are the 

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PUBLIC COMMENTS 



symbols of creative progress. It is the artist alone who can save our 
civilization from chaos, by pointing the way to the world of tomorrow." 

"These paintings are most inspiring. I never felt so close to any other 
paintings as I do to these, because they are so rhythmically alive in their 
limitless conception of pure design. They flow like life itself, like a beauti- 
ful song eternally creative in its expression." 

"Kandinsky's 'Black Lines' is the sort of painting which permits the appeal 
throughout the senses, rather than through the rational mind, which is 
akin to the appeal of music." 

"I am enthralled by the Kandinsky show to a degree that makes my heart 
beat faster. At school we have never been very interested in Art — that 
is, we are less interested in It than in our regular academic subjects. But 
after the lectures we had at school, I really can't blame the students. It is 
necessary to see and feel these paintings by oneself to get the real joy 
and happiness." 

"I came to the Museum frequently and have read all the articles I can find 
on Non-objective painting. I am glad to see this list of new publications, 
particularly, Kandinsky's 'Point Line to Plane.' The whole problem of the 
development and the Implications of this Art should be studied." 

"I felt as bleak as the weather and wanted something to do, so I came Into 
the Museum. It was like entering another world. The soft gray walls, the 
music and these magnificent paintings. Almost immediately, I felt a deep 
serenity and quiet joy. The luminous tones of the paintings, the gay 
delicacy of Kandinsky's 'Black Lines' and the dynamic rhythms in Rebay's 
'Animation.' All of them changed my entire emotional situation and I 
felt alive again. Really, Non-objective painting seems to have a strong 
uplifting effect." 

"These paintings are marvelous. The pictures have given me a sense of 
values whereby I will be able to enjoy the other forms in painting much 

133 



PUBLIC COMMENTS 



more significantly. It would be wonderful if a visit to this Museum would 
become a must, through the various branches of our educational system. 
To conceive the beauty in a Non-objective painting makes for a more 
aesthetic, sensitive living, thereby creating greater harmony among men. 
I feel I could look at anything now in nature and see it through the loveli- 
ness of a beautifully created Non-objective painting. Non-objective form 
in painting makes for a more complete life." 

"Really, this Museum is wonderful! I hardly know how to tell you how 
exciting it all is to me. I must try to get my college friends to come here 
and see these marvelous paintings. I like the work of Bauer the best of all, 
for he seems to have such a magnificent ability to organize his canvases in 
an inspired manner. 'Squares' is my favorite painting. When I first looked 
at it, I didn't like it at all, but now I like it better than any other painting 
I know. 1 suppose painting is much like music, for at first I didn't like Bach 
and now he seems to me to be the greatest of them all. Bauer to me is like 
Bach. He is emotional, but in a highly organized way. I am so thrilled to 
know there is a Museum where 1 can always come to see my favorite 
painter." 

"When I set out to visit this Museum, I had no idea that 1 would encounter 
anything quite so magnificent. It is a complete new world to me. I have 
given many years to the study of the various periods in painting, but no 
other form has afforded me the intrigue and pleasurable excitement these 
pictures do. I am so happy about my adventure here this morning." 

"I'm certainly glad I was able to see this Museum before I finished my 
Army leave. We have galleries in Toronto, but they are not nearly as 
progressive as this Museum. I am a painter myself, and it has meant a 
great deal to me to see these inspiring paintings. I have the feeling that 
this is the turning point in my artistic career. You see, for the last few 
years, I have been gradually becoming more and more abstract in my 
work, but for some reason, I have never quite been able to break away 
from realistic representation. Now, however, after seeing these paintings, 

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PUBLIC COMMENTS 



I feel sure that I will have the courage to follow the direction I believe is 
the highest ideal of artistic creation, that of Non-objectivity." 

"I am so fascinated by these paintings now that I cannot understand how 
at the very beginning several years ago, I could not see anything in them. 
It was not even that I did not like them then, as I saw immediately that 
they vividly presented what every great artist has to have, knowledge of 
colour, form, and organization. Yet their most profound message of great 
beauty, and the imperceptible moulding of my own spirit into a greater 
sense of freedom and harmony, is what I did not expect; and which has 
taken time and prolonged acquaintance with these great paintings, for me 
to realize. It is as though I had wandered blindly through a Cathedral, 
commenting on trivial details, or differences from some other building but 
never knowing the great meaning of the building as a whole, never seeing 
that it was something immense, more than a collection of material ele- 
ments." 

"It is as if the painting were demanding certain things from me which, 
so far, I cannot give, and, in turn, it refuses to reveal itself. These canvases 

are anything but passive. They are so elusive, challenging, and very much 

I* >< 
alive. 

"The music playing here is no accident. The best way to learn something 
is to discover it yourself; the things that strike you suddenly with a power- 
ful illumination are the things you never forget. Playing great, perfectly 
ordered, and profoundly rhythmic harmonies puts the observer into an 
artistic consciousness of such depth, that as he stands looking at a great 
masterpiece of Non-objective painting, he suddenly feels the spacial 
purity and sees the rhythmic movement of form and colour. Such a sudden 
relationship of himself to the picture and such an Insight, in which he is 
directly involved, always partakes of the miraculous. It does more to en- 
lighten and deepen one's conception of Art than extensive reading or 
listening to explanations could ever do. I had such an experience before 
Bauer's great painting, 'Blue Balls.' With the greatest sensation of pieas- 

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ure, without any warning from one second to another, I became a different 
person. I was suddenly and hypnotically focussed within that painting 
and moving in the most amazing and mysterious rhythms of circular har- 
monies. It is something that cannot be explained. Only to someone who 
felt it himself can it be communicated or be discussed. I have also been 
very moved by Mattern's 'Forzato,' as it reminded me somehow of the 
second movement of Beethoven's 'Fifth Symphony'." 

"I am a teacher of pottery at the Art and Industry School. When I 
wanted to know about pottery, I started by looking at primitive ware. The 
deep bowls with their hand-polished finishes and linear designs were to 
me more moving than anything I had experienced. There was emotional 
directness and satisfaction in the shape and colour. To hold these objects 
is like taking into one's hands a charge of power that permeates one, 
setting one in rhythm with the earth. Today, when I came into this 
Museum, I experienced the same thing — that recognition of the 'essence.' 
Many people have called it by many names. I like Kandinsky's phrase, 
'spiritual harmony.' That is exactly what I find in these paintings, as in 
primitive pottery. Art has thrown off self-conscious gestures. It has freed 
itself from the imitation of nature. Now and here it is the character of 
nature itself, integral, expressive, and one with life." 

"I am studying abstract design at Queens College, and we had an assign- 
ment to come here and write about two of the paintings. How beautiful 
these paintings are; I'm enjoying them much more than any landscapes or 
portraits. I feel as though I am floating in space. One of the paintings I 
have chosen is 'Animation' by Hilla Rebay. It is so luminous and delicate, 
organized and spontaneous. I cannot tear myself away from this painting, 
it is so rich, beautiful, and enchanting." 

"When my friends inquire, 'What do you want to do?' I answer im- 
mediately, 'Go to the Museum of Non-objective Painting!' Not one of 
them has ever been disappointed." 

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"I did not know what was wrong with me — my writing just has not been 
coming off. it seemed dead and unmovlng. It was nothing I could analyze, 
so I decided to come downtown and go to the Art exhibitions, but I was 
very dissatisfied with what I was seeing. They were like my poetry, 
technically all right, but very drab. Then, I decided to come here before 
I had lunch. Well, now it is four o'clock and I am still here. I know nov/ 
what was wrong; it was not the rhyme scheme or syllabic pattern. It just 
did not have what all these paintings do contain. The rhythm of spaces 
between forms that gives each the ability to swing and expand and move, 
being in relation to all other parts. They are magnificent, deeply satisfy- 
ing, and varied In mood. I must express this In words somehow. These 
painters have found the way, poets must learn to follow. All creative art 
will be Influenced by the revelation so beautifully presented In this 
Museum. I am deeply grateful to the people who make it possible for me 
to see these masterpieces, full of purity and Insight." 

"I am from Kansas, an ex-flier, now in the Merchant Marine. Non-objective 
paintings impress me more than any others I have ever seen. This is the 
first time that I have ever felt that in any Art. I especially like 'Forzato' 
by Mattern for Its powerful colour contrasts and spinning movement." 

"In the West, we have a sense of expansiveness, everything is laid out 
physically on a larger scale, and we are accustomed to vivid colours. I feel 
that Bauer has captured that sense of space, of the larger magnitudes in 
the rhythms of existence of which man Is but one slight penetrator. Per- 
haps it is the order in his paintings which is so immediately present and yet 
so dynamic, so full of space, and yet so perfectly controlled within the 
canvas limit. After so many of the absurd configurations and confused 
masses of colour that are today presented as modern Art, It is both re- 
assuring and inspiring to see the work of a man with a mature sense of 
form and economic use of colour. Could anything be more exciting than 
his work? And yet Is there one unnecessary line or circle? It must have 
taken a very gifted person to first appreciate and collect this great 
painter's work. Bauer seems to me to be an Academician, in the best 

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sense of that word. He is the master of a new Art, who does not try to 
impress by loud blares and superficial dramatics, which the humanity of 
his own generation never fails to recognize." 

"The harmony that Non-objective painting creates makes life significant. 
This Museum is infinitely more thrilling than anything else that exists at 
present. Rebay's 'Animation' has inspired me to start painting." 

"These paintings will enrich and stimulate my work. As for me this 
Museum is the most unique and interesting place in New York." 

"I am not surprised that this Museum shows such greatness and such an 
advanced spirit. To my knowledge, the artist has always preceded the 
philosopher in establishing the forms of his own age. It happened in 
Greece, in Italy, in Paris In the Nineteenth Century, and it happens here. 
The philosophers deal with what they know, the artists with what they find, 
in the world about them, in the spirit that motivates their time. They do 
not seek to know, for they are that which the philosopher tries to find out. 
They do not have to look, for that is given to the painter, to the Non- 
objective painter to pour out from himself the greatness of spirit that 
belongs to the modern world. He cannot help but do this, for he Is this 
spirit, and breathes and lives it, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo 
breathe the spirit of the High Renaissance. For so perfectly Integrated is 
this artistic truth that when we think of the Renaissance, the paintings 
float before our eyes, achieving a kind of anonymity. The work of Bauer 
and Kandlnsky appears before us in this same veil of anonymity. It Is not 
necessary for us to know about the artist — there is none of his own person- 
ality between the spectator and the painting In which is revealed the mod- 
ern world. I think this even truer of Bauer than of Kandlnsky, for here the 
subjective is gone, and only the universal remains." 

"Last time I was here I bought the 'Public Comments' booklet and took 
it home. It was so interesting and exciting to read. All my friends were 
fascinated as well as myself. It is wonderful to think that people respond 

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to these great paintings so Intelilgently, so raptly, and with such intense 
awareness of spiritual beauty. One realizes anew what a great force for 
good, for peace, and for the spiritual development of human beings the 
works of great masters are." 

"I have a small gallery In Kansas City, but Modern Art confused me. 
It seemed like a hodgepodge of the old and the new, always shedding 
one form and coming out In another. But like the worm, which finally 
emerges as a beautiful butterfly winging Its way Into freedom, so Non- 
objective painting is now soaring above the confusion; winging its way 
into the purity and rhythmic pulse, v/hlch all modern Art has been blindly 
striving toward. Non-objective painting expresses the Art which paints 
spiritual forces and relationships, while the old Art represents man's per- 
ceptions of the brutal forces of nature and his construction In It. The old 
Art strlved to spiritualize matter, but today, with so many mechanical 
methods of controlling matter, we realize that the spirit is something that 
transcends the material. We no longer have to paint objects to symbolize 
our relationship to them, for our relationship today Is a practical matter, 
and we can now turn our attention to the universal laws activating matter 
and even more Important to the forces of spiritual order toward which 
every man, at some point, feels his soul Is turning. I was lucky to come 
here the day before Hllla Rebay's last lecture. Her Inspired Insight Into 
Art is what put me onto the track of this clarification. I am so sorry I will 
be gone before her next talk." 

"I have been an interior decorator In Europe and America and these paint- 
ings take on a special significance for me. I can visualize entire homes built 
around these paintings. It would be magnificent. I have a friend who has 
done that very thing, and her home Is of rare beauty. If only people 
would realize that paintings such as these in your Museum can become a 
really Integral part of one's life. It would indeed be wonderful." 

"I studied for years at an Art school only to find, when I left, that I felt 
completely stifled by the analytical technique I had been taught. Three 

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months ago when I was in New York, I happened to come In here. I was 
dazzled and bewildered. Here was everything that I lacked, that my 
painting hungered for. I was tremendously shocked — I loved the paint- 
ings, their use of the medium was masterful, and yet their conception of 
Art seemed so foreign to me. How would one go about such a painting? 
What laws did they have of formation and formulation? Bauer's paintings 
especially were so ordered and yet so free. I have been so confused for 
the last three months that I had to return — I wish I lived in New York. I 
think I could put up with all the chaos of a great city just to be near this 
Museum. I am sure with prolonged contact I would be able to regain my 
native creative vitality. Every time I come here I want to rush right home 
and paint. These paintings seem to set fire to my spirit, I am consumed 
with ambition. I have not felt like that since before I went to school." 

"This Museum haunts me. I never plan to come here, yet I always find 
myself wondering if there are new paintings hung up or if I remember the 
precise tone of green in Kandinsky's 'Extended.' Twice a week here I am, 
looking at everything once more almost protectively, as if in some un- 
explained way this were 'My Museum'." 

"Although I know little about Art, I feel that my lack of knowledge does 
not exclude me from the appreciation of these Non-objective paintings. 
Each picture seems to convey a basic message through simplicity of line 
and congruity of colour. Because my response to this Art is one of the 
most pleasing sensations I have ever known, I plan to come into this Mu- 
seum often and absorb the high essence of spirituality which these paint- 
ings seem to emit." 

"Many people have told me that they did not like Art until they saw the 
paintings in the Museum of Non-objective painting. I wondered why 
paintings of this type were more capable of 'getting across' to the ob- 
server. It would seem on the surface that they offered nothing to 'grasp' 
them with, that is, no story to remember. Yet now at last I know what it 
Is. In these canvases, those who respond to them, see the reflections of 

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their own souls, comprehend that immeasurable experience which is already 
familiar to them. Thus, the recognition of similar qualities in the observer. 
It is a greeting of equals. I also know that as I grow, I find myself more 
capable of understanding these paintings, created by artists whose rich- 
ness and amplitude of spirit can never be exhausted." 

"I am from the Middle West, and one of the principal reasons I came to 
New York for a vacation was to see first hand the work of the masters, 
Kandinsky and Bauer. You see, I am a painter myself and I feel that I owe 
a real debt to the Guggenheim Foundation for all that it has done for me. 
A friend of mine sent me some reproductions of the paintings of Kandinsky 
and Bauer and they so inspired me, that I changed my style of painting 
to the Non-objective approach. Since then my work has seemed to take 
on a new life and vitality. I vowed that sometime, somehow, I would get 
to New York to see this great collection, and now here I am. It is even 
more wonderful than I had anticipated! I wish I could thank Mr. Guggen- 
heim personally for all he has done for the Art of mankind." 

"In Moholy-Nagy's work, I receive the impression of vastness that has 
been handled with the comprehension of the continuity of universal 
rhythms, rather than as in the phrase 'Extra galactic nebulae,' and intellec- 
tual, endless, non-human void. This is to me the difference between Art 
and Science. Art has found the great integrating, uniting forces of ex- 
istence. Science stands before overwhelming problems with no solution, 
and can only describe it with impermanent and frequently variable data. 
What other medium would deal so perfectly with these great emotional 
problems, the individual's position in the universe? I can only answer: 
'Non-objective painting' is the only Art that is capable of sustaining such 
content. It is the only Art that embodies permanent elements of the 
human creative spirit, that will still be valid a thousand years from today." 

"These paintings exist; they are real because they do not imitate nature; 
they have a life all their own, an inner reason for being. Here is life en- 
closed, capable of complete movement and vitality within the frame. 

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They are not dependent upon the observer's ability to teach a story, as 
in narrative painting, nor do they ask you to respond to the artificial 
duplication of natural panorama. Instead it is as if the artist himself were 
God, forming and fashioning new worlds in His own likeness, and when we 
discover the beauty of one of these works, it is like a great revelation. It 
is a rare experience as of suddenly understanding what another person is, 
or as identifying similar basic forms in ourselves and in the universe." 

"For me. Non-objective painting is the best form of inspiration I know 
and the most spiritually uplifting hobby a man can have. I shall always 
be grateful to this Museum and the Foundation for the wonderful work it 
is doing in spreading Kandinsky's work and ideal further. The more people 
who know about it, the happier, healthier, and better balanced will be 
our world." 

"To see these great paintings is very exciting. You get the positive feeling 
that Kandinsky's purpose in painting was definitely not to make Art, but 
to be in this wonderful state which makes Art inevitable. I have derived 
great benefit from his paintings. Non-objective painting has been a great 
source of inspiration to me as a painter and also In my work as an interior 
decorator. This form of painting brings forth an aesthetic beauty rarely 
experienced In any other Art form. Non-objective painting stands before 
one in all its greatness like the vastness of the moon or sun, or the other 
elements in the universe." 

"The unadulterated aesthetic inspiration of this Art compares with re- 
productive painting In the same way, that the music of Bach compares 
with an Instrumental reproduction of sound by a locomotive or any other 
functional sound. It is no more logical to llnnlt artists to the subordinate 
inspiration of material objects, which he sees around him, than it would be 
to limit composers to combinations of the sounds in every day life." 

"There is a particular quality of 'Absolute Beauty' in these paintings. A 
contrast to the old master type, a beauty which is bounded completely 

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by the limits of the painting, needing no reference to outer phenomena in 
order to give it meaning or validity. Take a painting like 'Extended' by 
Kandinsky, for Instance — there Is in this a certain basic balance, a sense 
of delicate tensions and fusion of colour which needs only itself, to form a 
complete unit of meaning. There is the heavy quality of the large mass, 
including the arrow-shape, the heaviness of that balanced by the up- 
reaching light form. I like the equation of the square, firm dynamics of 
the lower part to the more evolved rhythmic ones above. Furthermore, 
there is a subtle interplay of the reduced intensity of complimentary 
colours, red and green, and their variations." 

"These paintings are saying something very important. I am going to 
come back here every week. I will take a couple of these prints home and 
hang them where I can see them all the time. I have never had such a 
baffling thing happen to me before; I certainly did not ever expect any 
painting to affect me like this. It is as If the painting were demanding 
certain things from me, which so far I cannot give, and in turn, it refuses 
to reveal itself. These canvases are anything but passive. They are so 
elusive, challenging, and very much alive." 

"I feel that Non-objective painting has played and will play even more, in 
the future, a tremendous part in Influencing industrial design. The con- 
cepts of space relationship is one of the most important elements of de- 
sign. I am thrilled that there is such a place in New York as this Museum 
where one can come and see beautiful organization of colour, line and 
form." 

"This is a Museum which, I am ashamed to say, I have never visited before. 
But now that I have discovered it, I shall certainly come here often. I had 
made a resolution to see as many of the museums of New York as possible 
on my two-week vacation, but I find that the impact of the great emotional 
content of the work here is so powerful that I am forced, though not at all 
against my will, to spend more time, than I had intended, here." 

"It seems to me, as a matter of fact, that the discovery In one's personal 

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life of something like Non-objective Art is so great, that it is enough to 
occupy one's mind for some time. There are so many new things to think 
over, one of them being the release from the morass of despair that one is 
in, after looking at the great body of modern painting, most of it com- 
pletely directionless, the rest charlatanism." 

"What a great discovery on the part of the artist, v/hen here is found the 
cessation of the frantic search for subject matter, or for a means of con- 
cealing the fact, that they felt its lack. How magnificently simple, as are 
most of the great things in the world, is the beautiful basis of Non- 
objecive painting. It finds itself purely in the aesthetic emotion, in the 
direction of the pure aesthetic spirit, through the mind of the artist, and 
directly out to the observer." 

"Frankly, I do not know what I would do, if it were not for this beautiful 
Museum. It has given me more help and inspiration than any other one 
thing in New York. In a sense, it has changed my whole life; for I am sure 
that I would never have started painting if it had not been for the stimulus 
I received here. When I first came in, I was frankly rebellious because I 
related this painting to other schools such as the surrealists. But it was not 
long before I was in complete harmony with the paintings, for I realized 
that these creations did not pretend to be anything they were not. In 
other words, they did not pretend to represent anything, but beautiful 
colour and form, which I think is as it should be. I just cannot express my 
great thanks and enthusiasm." 

"As an officer recently discharged from the Army, I have always wanted 
to come here, ever since 1938, when while attending Blue Ridge College, 
I saw the loan exhibit of some paintings from this Museum in Baltimore. I 
was tremendously moved and creatively stimulated — I think all the students 
were, for it was discovered a few weeks after that loan exhibit opened, that 
the students had gone back to college and attempted to paint, following 
the forms of certain of their favorites, Non-objective murals on the dormi- 
tory walls. I am afraid we were not too successful, but you know there is 

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something about these paintings that is so exciting, that you feel forced 
to express your emotions creatively — even when you knov/ you are totally 
incapable." 

"Mattern's painting, 'Abandon,' makes me want to laugh and dance and 
sing. I just want to behave as if it were spring, and I were barefoot in my 
own garden in the country. It is a shame people have to act so ponderous 
and proper in a Museum, when this painting is misbehaving in such a care- 
free way." 

"These paintings are a beautiful example of perfection. Each picture 
radiates a definite spiritual mood of a deep mystical harmony. How suc- 
cessfully both colour and line are combined to give these paintings such 
singular strength and power. I like 'Carnival' and 'Open Green' by Kandin- 
sky, and 'Animation' by Rebay, an artist of vigorous temperament. Her 
paintings is distinguished by an expressive conciseness of form, accented 
by simplicity of colouring, calculated to Intensify its forcefulness." 

"I have just been released from the Navy, where I served for four years. 
This Museum Is like a new-found world for me. I cannot express how won- 
derful it is to be here. Since my contact with these great works, I have 
experienced a great urge to create In Non-objective form. I have com- 
pletely lost interest In my studies in the field of industrial design. The 
wonderful thing is, that I begin to realize that these paintings are far 
greater than they even appear to be." 

"For many years in Kentucky, I have devoted myself to making tapestries. 
Love for colour and design have grown to be almost part of me. Imagine, 
then, the thrill of this Museum, where composition and colour have been 
gloriously combined with spiritual Inspiration." 

"For me Ralph Scarlett Is the most Important painter in America today. 
He catches and transposes for us in terms of paint the infinite beauties 
and rhythms of modern life. They begin to have a meaning for us when 
they are taken hold of in such a masterful way, and so beautifully given 

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to us — as beauty, not as confused ugliness. Scarlett proves to us the 
validity of our ov/n period here in America. He, as an American, uses 
those forms of Art, that are so often misused, and paints our world. He is, 
I understand, a man who has worked with mechanical things, with elec- 
tricity, modern architecture, and with the elements making up our life, 
without descending to the banality of actually putting any of these things 
into his work." 

"How great a handicap mothers force onto their children by not taking 
them to see the great Art of today, which would help them to realize their 
own world, but to see the dusty Art of the past, of importance only to 
historians. I am certainly going to bring my own child in here, as soon as 
he is old enough to comprehend the meaning of the ideas of colour and 
form, and light and rhythm, and acquaint him at once with the great 
masters of his world to come, for it is his world and his children's world, 
far more than it is ours." 

"I have been to this Museum a number of times now, and I find that it 
offers me a very real source of personal strength. It is magnificent to find 
that Art has continued to advance so, that it has maintained its position as 
a personal comfort to mankind. That it has finally expressed itself in such 
a free form, is especially significant, because it offers the individual com- 
plete freedom of interpretation and doesn't narrow his field of imagina- 
tion, as do representational paintings. Non-objective Art is more akin to 
music than any other type of painting for this reason, and because of this, 
I feel sure of its long survival." 

"When vacation time from Vassar College arrives, this is always one of 
the first places I come to. I do so hope there will be a lecture before ! go 
back to school. Baroness Rebay is a most inspired speaker, and I come 
away feeling my appreciation of Art tremendously increased. It is so 
wonderful to hear a painter talk about painting and not a critic or historian. 
Who but a creator is truly aware of the force and value of Art in his day?" 

"I have just come from Chicago where I was introduced to Non-objective 
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painting by the Kandinsky show at the Arts Club. The people in Chicago 
are grateful for the cooperation of this Museunn in loaning some of his 
greatest works. I see most of the shows that come to Chicago, and this 
one was a knockout; everyone was talking about it. And now I come to 
New York and discover that there is another Non-objective painter, 
Rudolph Bauer. If it is possible, I am even more excited now, than I was 
in Chicago. Bauer has a majestic simplicity which makes me revere his 
paintings even more than Kandinsky's, where great vitality is the dominant 
thing. To be here at the center of Non-objective painting is a great privi- 
lege. I am not at all surprised, that many new talents are merging under 
the tremendous stimulation of this place." 

"I just said to my friends, 'Isn't this the most beautiful place in the World?' 
I didn't exaggerate at all, now did I? But then, it is impossible to explain. 
Coming here, one is transported by sensations of loveliness, that one was 
hardly aware existed before. Isn't that a beautiful painting? (Pointing at 
'Carnival' by Kandinsky) I try so hard to remember what one of these 
paintings looks like, but I cannot. If you break It down into certain large 
sweeps, or repetitive forms you can remember that, but the direct re- 
sponse is so strong, that the remembrance seems absolutely false. Like In 
music, one remembers a symphony by the number of movements, slow, 
fast, etc. One can even sing the major themes, but the total aesthetic, 
ecstatic reaction only occurs, when one hears it played In all Its complexity, 
velocity and volume. How I love to come here. I can never get enough of 
these wonderful paintings." 

"I wish my vacation from medical classes would last longer. The more time 
I spend here, the more excited and enthusiastic I become about Non- 
objective paintings. I am not trying hard, I am just sitting here looking, 
but the more I look, the more I want to look. The rewards Increase by 
leaps and bounds. You don't know the sense of freedom I derive from 
these paintings, and how it strengthens my understanding of human 
dignity and wisdom. These painters are not inhibited by prejudice, past 
discipline, or proper subject matter. They are experimenters, are led on 

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by all the possibilities of their medium and, at the same time, are humbly 
concentrated in the act of creating something beautiful. Whoever made 
this Museum possible was really Inspired. As its influence widens, I feel 
sure it will constitute a major force for the advancement of individual 
tastes and ideas, that will extend far beyond the fields of Art. A person 
is initiated into spiritual freedom here, which reinforces what is right 
in him and his best abilities, no matter what field they may lie in. This 
Museum is to me the spearhead of progress, and its importance greatly 
transcends what is usually thought of, as the field of Art." 

"I've been meaning to come here for a long time. A friend of mine has 
some of Mr. Scarlett's work. She herself is Interested in the spiritual con- 
tent of this Art. I can see what she feels in his paintings . . . The subtle 
blending and shading In the background In contrast to some clear forms 
In the foreground gives a sense of great distance and spiritual reverence." 

"I feel the discovery of Non-objective painting is somewhat synonymous 
with the many great discoveries of my age, such as that of atomic power, 
for instance. In years to come, I'm sure that Non-objective painting will 
be regarded as the greatest development art has ever made. In a way, 
it Is like the bursting forth of light, where existed only darkness before. 
This is the most wonderful manifestation of our age, and I am sure that 
the masters of this art, Kandinsky, Bauer, and Rebay, will go down in 
history as dynamic forces in the conception of a new age In art." 

"I have just come from Paris where I have been directly connected with 
the art world, and I must say that I feel that this Museum has a far greater 
collection of progressive paintings, that I have seen in Paris at any time. 
Your country should indeed feel proud that such an amazing place is con- 
tributing so materially to the most enlightening movement In art today. 
Certain paintings In your collection I feel are particularly outstanding. For 
instance, Kandinsky's 'Carnival' is a very exciting work, with magnificent 
colour and movement, and 'Black Lines' is also a very great painting. In the 
Loan Exhibit, 'Royally' of Hilla Rebay seems to me to be the most mature 

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and dynamically constructed of any paintings exhibited. Her technique is 
superb, as is her variety and her subtle manipulation of paint. Also 
Xceron's 'Composition #279' appeals greatly to me. He is a fine artist 
and I have long appreciated his work. His simplicity of form and con- 
trolled use of colour is very outstanding. I am very happy to know that such 
a powerful force as the Guggenheim Foundation is backing so thoroughly 
the most advanced type of painting today, the Non-objective form." 

"I am not a painter and know absolutely nothing about the technical pro- 
cedures in Art, and yet these beautiful paintings create an Inward peace 
and tranquillity of spirit such as I have never experienced before. Lately, 
I have been spending part of my lunch hour each day at the Museum and 
Invariably I leave feeling at peace and In harmony. It is as if an all- 
powerful force suddenly took control of me and lifted me Into another 
world. It is a very new and wonderful experience." 

"Isn't it wonderful that colleges and high schools are waking up to the 
existence of this beautiful and inspiring art? I've been coming here for 
years because my mother was an early disciple of this great new expres- 
sion of spiritual harmony. It has been an entrancing and expansive force 
In our home for years. And then I go to college, and one of my first 
assignments is, to come here and write up my reactions to six of these 
masterpieces! Academic people are usually behind the times, but the 
proximity of this majestic collection which influences so many people has 
already built up such a strong, eager following In New York that it has 
penetrated even the beginners' art classes in school. I think It is so wonder- 
ful. Could there be any better preparation of young people for life than 
learning early and Intuitively through the beauty of art the value of order, 
joy, spontaneity, relaxation, and spiritual ecstasy?" 

"As an electrical engineer, I know little about Art. I saw a painting In the 
window which made me stop and come In. I was curious about the strange 
feeling i had, when I saw It. Something In me seemed to respond, some- 
thing that never before had been stirred. I realized that never having 

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found my way into the realm of Art, I had missed a profound aesthetic 
experience. The more I look at these paintings, the more I know why it is 
that they stir me so. It is because the elements with which I work every 
day have been transmuted into an immeasurable realm. The rhythms and 
forms set forth visually those forces which are at work in the cosmos. No 
other painting has ever seemed to me important, or to state the underly- 
ing truth of the universe, as these do." 

"In all activities of great spiritual meaning there are unprovables, intangi- 
bles—in the Bible, in literature, in metaphysics; so, why not in Art? Why 
should Art be the one medium where a true expression of the spirit is 
lacking? And that is why painting inevitably moved into the realm of Non- 
objective, for great spirits of real creative magnitude could not be forever 
contented while bound by the limited dimensions of earth and drab, grey 
colours. That is why this Art heals those who are sick, for it is not a repeti- 
tion of the scenes and objects connected with their illness, but puts them 
in contact with the higher forces of order that permeate the universe." 

"The two things I valued the most while I was overseas were the two prints 
I purchased at this Museum some time ago. One was Kandinsky's 'Black 
Lines' and the other was Bauer's 'Dark Accents.' Actually, I never trans- 
ferred a position without being sure that the pictures were with me. I 
never tired of looking at them. They gave me inspiration in my darkest 
moments." 

"This Museum gives to me a happiness that is past, present and future. 
My past visits have given me invaluable help in my occupation as an 
architect and designer of moving picture sets. They have brought out in 
me a sensitivity for colour and spacing, which had remained dormant 
throughout my extensive formal education. My present exposure to this 
Art is a highly pleasant antidote for the drab materialism with which 
people permit their lives to be filled. To be surrounded by such purity of 
expression is a profound experience. My future interest in this Museum 
is that of both an architect, who is eager to see the completion of the 

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glorious project for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation by Frank 
Lloyd Wright, the most accomplished master in his field, and an enthusi- 
astic observed of Non-objective Painting who looks forward to the day, 
when this Art will be housed in what will surely be a shrine of cultural 
progress." 

"I am strongly impressed by Bauer's clarity of power. The decisive com- 
position and sureness of colour give his works an incomparable intensity." 

"It is, to state it mildly, extremely gratifying for me to see this Art, For 
the seventy-six years of my life, I have been watching people struggle in 
various fields of Art to find the 'true' form of expression. At last, I am 
seeing the results of unhampered Inspiration. The high quality of work In 
the loan exhibition Is proof of the eagerness of contemporary artists for 
an opportunity to paint with freedom and purity; the interest and en- 
thusiasm which shine on the faces of my fellow visitors are proof of the 
receptlveness which this Art arouses in the people." 

"I am a completely Inartistic person; I know nothing of Art, and yet It 
brings a great quietness to my soul to be able to breathe the wonderful 
beauty of these paintings. I am not used to expressing myself about things 
like these, so I don't quite know what to say. I only wish that somehow, I 
could make those responsible for this Museum know, what an Important 
Island of beauty It is, and could be to more New Yorkers. An island sepa- 
rated from the tiresomeness of the ever-returning morning to evening 
schedule lived by most New Yorkers, and from the dullness of most of our 
lives. 

"Many people, who have the time or the money, can get away in time 
and space from these things, but for those who cannot, what a blessing it 
is to know, that this Museum is here; and how hard It will be when it moves 
into a big palace uptown, where one perhaps will not have the time to see 
it, though I think that I will and must make the time." 

"Bauer's paintings give the Impression of being the work of one who has 
an inclusive comprehension of the fundamental order and balance of our 

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very universe. He translates this comprehension into compositions of 
perfect shape and colour. Each painting seems to be an interpretation of 
the cosmic forces, which control the universe. His style evidences a rare 
combination of highly developed sensitivity and disciplined arrangement, 
v/hich gives powerful directness to his creations." 

"I have been a professor in a university for the last twenty years. During 
this time I have discovered the inadequacy of the intellect. There are 
two ways anything can be approached: emotionally and intellectually. 
In our present civilization the emphasis has been placed on the latter, 
coupling it with science and technology. Politicians have been concerned 
with the physical welfare of people. Few have been Interested in that 
thing which separates human beings from animals— the soul. That is 
probably because it cannot be understood by analytical means. No — 
the finest part of our lives consists of spiritual-emotional response. I find 
these paintings completely spiritual-emotional. The paintings in this 
Museum offer the world a true peace and harmony, where man's dignity 
and spiritual strength win for him a place In the cosmic system. One 
cannot merely accept this Art. One has to reach out for It." 

"The smothering effect of materialistic dominance In our present way of 
life is melted, when I enter this Museum. Here there Is a strong core of 
high purpose around which the Art of future generations will build itself. 
The people who planned this Museum are to be highly complimented for 
there is nothing to detract from the brilliant beauty of the Art of Non- 
objectivity which Kandinsky was the first to proclaim." 



152 



LIST OF FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

BLACK LINES (In colour)— 1913 On Cover 

REPRODUCTION OF ORIGINAL COVER I 
PHOTOGRAPH OF KANDINSKY Frontispiece 

ALBRECHT DURER: "THE DESCENT FROM THE CROSS" 37 

RAPHAEL: "THE CANIGIANI HOLY FAMILY" 38 

MOSAIC IN S. VITALE RAVENNA 101 

MOSAIC IN S. VITALE RAVENNA 102 

PAUL CEZANNE: "BATHING V/OMEN" 103 

KANDINSKY 104 

TUNISIAN SHEEP FESTIVAL— 1 904 106 

BLUE MOUNTAIN— 1908 107 

COMPOSITION No. 2 (oil)- 1910 108 

COMPOSITION No. 4 (oil)- 1910 109 

IMPRESSION No. 4 MOSCOW— 1911 NO 

IMPROVISATION No. 1 8— 1 9 1 1 III 

IMPROVISATION (In colour)— 1912 113 

SMALL PLEASURES— 1913 115 

WHITE EDGE— 1913 116 

COMPOSITION No. 8— 1 923 117 

ABOVE AND LEFT (In colour)— 1925 119 

POINTED AND ROUND (in colour)— 1933 121 

COMPOSITION 678—1940 123 

AROUND THE LINE— 1943 124 

WELL TEMPERED EMPHASIS— 1944 125 

ISOLATION— 1944 126 




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